Sean Cain’s The Last House is getting a second chance at life re-titling the Breath of Hate (2011). Wild Eye Releasing is making the film available on DVD and VOD November 24th, 2015. The film is worth a new look for the performance of its main bad, Ezra Buzzington as Hate, but is likely more buzz-worthy for its inclusion of Jason Mewes from Jay & Silent Bob fame. The film concerns itself with an escort named Love who must fight for her life when she becomes the victim of a maniac named Hate. The film succeeds when it concentrates on these two characters and falters when it shifts focus to Hate’s fellow murderous comrades and their less interesting victims. Buzzington nearly single-handedly saves this film from the contrivances of its main plot which relies heavily on its exploitation-driven scenarios without pushing the limits of its own seedy narrative. Ironically, it is when The Last House is at it simplest that it is at its best, when Hate and Love are locked in discussion battling a confrontation of words and ideals. This makes Lauren Walsh’s Love a far more interesting “last girl” and Buzzington’s Hate a more fascinating and motivated villain. Sadly, it is too small a success buried under the weight of the rest of the film.
Wes Laurie’s script for The Last House follows an erotic escort named Love (Lauren Walsh) as she struggles with running off with her beau Ned (Jason Mewes) or remaining under the control of her “pimp.” The choice is obvious, making it a reality is a little more difficult to accomplish. To secure her freedom, she must go on one last job with two rookie co-workers. The “johns” turn out to be a trio of escaped maniacs led by the masochistic Hate (Ezra Buzzington). One by one the escort’s mettle is tested until only Love is left alive seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Ned battles his way through the seedy underground searching for his missing Love.
The films goes out of its way to establish the relationship between Ned and Love, giving Jason Mewes and Lauren Walsh ample opportunity to build their characters and their chemistry together. Jason Mewes, best known as Jay opposite Kevin Smith’s Silent Bob in many of Smith’s films, displays a warm, tender and driven side not often seen in his other films. While his range is limited and his comic timing is sorely missed, he easily makes Ned a character worth following and rooting for. His affection for Love is authentic with just enough desperation to drive his character to take the actions and make the decisions he must to find the woman he loves. Lauren Walsh is equally sweet when it comes to the Ned-Love affair but never quite leaves the innocence far enough behind to fully invest into the Love as an escort role. It is when she is opposite Ezra Buzzington’s Hate that she really shines when it is less about her profession or her relationships and more about verbally sparing off the killer to remain alive.
Speaking of Ezra Buzzington, he absolutely steals The Last House from the entire cast. The film belongs to him and his role as Hate. He oozes evil and menace with every word, every sly grin, every wiggle of his ears. He is impressive. He feels like a combination between Robert Mitchum’s Harry Powell from Night of the Hunter and a more mature, more frightening version of Freddy Krueger. The comparison to Powell from Charles Laughton’s classic is far from unintentional, the main characters are Love and Hate, mirroring the famous tattoos on the inspiration’s fingers. Buzzington does a fantastic job bringing his version of Hate to life, providing his character with a keen intellect while never forgetting that he is also mentally unstable. It is a frightening mix. He is motivated, intense and a force.
The problem with enjoying The Last House fully is its lack of commitment in diving into the seedy side of its characters, protagonists and antagonists alike. There is heavy use of sexual situations but it almost always feels restrained even when the gorgeous Monique Parent dominates her victim or Buzzington’s Hate promises to take things too far if Love doesn’t cough up her real name. While it is not the intent of the film to be a “Skinemax” flick, it behaves like it wants to be with its choice of characters, narrative and scenes. But it never delivers on that aspect which, if you are going to go there…well, go there. While this is a weak criticism of the film overall, the films spends so much time in this zone that it feels far less than it intends to be as a result. It is hard to avoid. It is striving to be exploitation without being terribly exploitative.
The Last House is a dull film overall but it also contains some memorable and terrific scenes between Lauren Walsh and Ezra Buzzington with crisp, fascinating dialog and a mesmerizing performance from Buzzington. The exploitation and seedy situations feel forced and lackluster for their content, making the inclusion of the escort motif unnecessary and unrewarding. The only part of that aspect that works is with the relationship between Lauren Walsh’s Love and Jason Mewes’ Ned. Arguably the tense confrontations between Hate’s group of deranged conspirators, Monique Parent and Richardo Gray, and the three escorts may have had more impact if they were either amped up to eleven or focused on a group of more innocent victims. The fact that they are taking things too far are never fully realized, missing the opportunity to take advantage of the suspense of where the movie is heading. Regardless, every time Buzzington is on screen, The Last House becomes the film presumably director Sean Cain and writer Wes Laurie intended it to be, where it feels dangerous and unpredictable, leaning heavily on the notable performance from its star villain. See The Last House to witness Buzzington’s Hate and little else.
The Last House (2015) (2 / 5)