Directed by Drew Mylrea, “Last Survivors” is a blurry tale about a father and a son living in the woods, following the belief that they are giving more to nature than they are taking away from it. Anyone who enters their self-created territory is treated as an outsider, and the father, Troy (Stephen Moyer), doesn’t hesitate to shoot them to protect his 25-year-old son, Jake (Drew Van Acker).
Cinematographer Julian Amaru Estrada has captured picturesque shots depicting the serenity and wilderness of Butte, Montana, where “Last Survivors” was shot. The narrative majorly depicts the two lives that are conflicted when the son meets a third person, a woman living in a cabin, and falls in love with her. Not only does love kindle a kind of warmth in Jake’s heart, but it also gives him a sensibility that makes him question his father’s lies, who has forced Jake to live in a no-man’s land since childhood. Why are Troy and Jake living away from human civilization? Let’s find out.
Troy Belstair took his son, Jake “Jakey,” to the woods near Chicago on December 11th, 2002, and lied to him about World War III, in which his mother was killed. Since then, Jakey has been living in a wood cabin in the wilderness, following the orders and beliefs of his atheist father. Tory has taught Jakey about the importance of man’s primitive roots, where they used to hunt for food instead of using packaged, processed food, which is why they hugely rely on animals and have also maintained a shed to preserve food, spices, and medicines.
Though Jakey carries out all his father’s commands, he hides a secret tin box from him in which he keeps his books, magazines, and a picture of a woman printed in the magazine that Jakey adores. Jakey loves reading books and constantly refers to the adventures of The Swiss Family Robinson in all his conversations, with the belief that someday he too will find his island and start a family with someone.
Jakey and Troy live in a self-created territory, believing they are one of the last few survivors, and some people, whom they call outsiders, want to hurt them and steal their food or territory. Hence, whenever a person invades their lands, Troy shoots them without a second thought and kills them. “Last Survivors” begins as a person named Jeff Williams walks into their territory, and while dealing with the outsider, Troy gets hurt.
Troy’s wound got infected, and the antibacterial medicines he had were too old to make him better. He is not in a position to go out of his territory to bring medicine and thus asks Jakey to bring out an SHTF book that has a map to the location of the medicine. Jakey has never stepped out of the territory, and though Troy is in pain, he is not sure whether his son is ready to deal with the outsiders. However, with this belief, he lets Jakey go on a one-man mission.
Outside the territory, Jakey spots a woman, Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone), living all alone in a cabin to seek peace and space away from her family and city life. Jakey gets infatuated with Henrietta and decides not to kill her. He steals the medicine and leaves, but when his father inquires about the woman, Jakey lies to him that he killed her. Later, Jakey steals the meat from the preserve and hides it to return to Henrietta’s cabin again and meet her. Jakey’s infatuation with a woman sparks a chain of events where he lies with his father, and Henrietta becomes Jakey’s link to the outside world, where she tells him about the things about which his father has been lying all along. But why?
Major Spoilers Ahead
‘Last Survivors’ Ending Explained
When Henrietta reported Jake’s intrusion into her cabin to the police, the officer dug up information about Troy and Jakey and revealed to Henrietta that on December 11th, 2002, Troy kidnapped his son from the house and attempted to murder a woman named Miss Chandrey, who was probably Jakey’s mother.
Whenever Jake dreamt about that night, he often saw a man’s face who knocked on the car’s window. Initially, Jake believed that the man in his dreams was asking for help from his father after the outbreak of World War 3, but in the end of “Last Survivors,” Jake understood the meaning of that dream. The man knocked on the car’s window and asked Troy to leave Jake, who was living with his mother at the man’s house and was probably her new partner. For some reason, Troy might have lost custody of Jake, and thus, to get his son back, he attacked his wife and tried to kill her. Troy showed signs of mental illness, but despite that, he was obsessed with his son, and to convince Jake to live with him in the wilderness, Troy fabricated the story of World War 3 and the human madness that destroyed the world, which made them the last few survivors of humanity.
Troy felt the same fear of losing his son when Jake, looking for a sense of belonging to start his own family, fell in love with Henrietta. The father didn’t want Jake to develop any human connection out of love or compassion. He was scared that Jake would leave him and start a new life, and Troy wasn’t ready for the separation. He locked Jake in the storage room and left his territory to kill Henrietta. However, before his father could harm Henrietta, Jake intervened and pushed his father off the window in Henrietta’s cabin.
At that point, Troy fell into a pointed metal that resulted in severe blood loss, and when Jake confronted his father, Troy finally revealed that whatever he did was out of love, which proved the theory that Troy kidnapped and lied to his son to keep Jakey with him. In the end of “Last Survivors,” Troy gives Jake his gun and asks him to end the misery for once and for all.
Before dying, Troy gave Jake a key that opened a box that he left for Jake to open only after his death. Inside the box, Jake found an address that he hoped belonged to his mother, Miss Chandrey. Without any further ado, Jake visited the place and knocked on the door before the film blacked out.
Jake didn’t believe in luck, but it could be surmised that it was a stroke of luck that brought Jeff Williams to their “No Man’s Land” and gave an injury to Troy that compelled him to send Jake to the outside world. Jake and Henrietta were destined to meet; however, they weren’t meant to stay together.
Henrietta, like Troy, developed a hatred for the city lifestyle and civilization. She left her husband and her kids to stay all alone in the woods looking for something, but she didn’t know what. Her husband encouraged her to get a job or pursue a hobby, but Henrietta was unable to find meaning or balance in her life. She needed experience, and the interaction with Jake evidently became that experience. Jake’s story gave her hope. A hope that there is still good in the world and that our lives are more about which part of humanity we accept.
‘Last Survivors’ is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Drew Mylrea.