When his father gets a job at an old friend's farm, Eli and his parents move to the countryside. Their relationship is difficult due to his father being a hard man who often enjoys a good drink. Eli tries to stay away, and wanders off into the woods. This is where he meets Amanda, a young girl who also stays away from people. They start to like each other, but there's something not right about Amanda. And soon a big secret is revealed.
Once in a while you discover a movie that is seemingly a horror movie, and in a lot of ways IS a horror movie, but it doesn't go by the same beats and themes. "Last Kind Words" carries the shell of horror, but it's well-dressed in drama, teen romance and mystery. The heart of the story is love. There is something really tragic about this movie that makes it a lot more horrifying to me than horror does, and that's because it deals with these humane themes of love, problems within the family, betrayal, dark secrets, and tops it off with a bitter-sweet ending. A slasher or a creature feature won't have you invested into the characters as this one does, so its punches ultimately sting more.
Eli is forced to move out to the middle of nowhere with his parents. It's where his father grew up, and it's right next to his father's new work - his ex-friend's farm. Eli's father is a broken man with a hard exterior and it causes a lot of problems within his family. Eli's mother does her best to stay out of problem by not doing anything, while Eli seeks to the woods in the area to get away. Out there he meets a young girl he quickly falls for. Her name is Amanda, and she seems to be an equally lost teen and the two find a lot of common ground. There is still something off about her, and one day she warns Eli not to trespass on the other side of a fence. When he finally does, he realizes something is not right with Amanda, and the man that his father works for has something to do with it. And sooner than later there's a connection back to his father.
I find "Last Kind Words" to be an extremely sad and tragic movie. The characters in the story are mere shells of what they used to be, and the only people with any love and care left in them are the teenagers. You see, we also meet Eli's best friend from the city, a young girl who wants to escape everything with him. With Amanda in the picture, there's bound to be hearts broken. And given the circumstances, I felt the break between Eli and his best friend, a girl he most likely would've fallen in love with if it wasn't for Amanda, was a really strong one. But it also shows the confusion of being young, not knowing which path to take (as if you ever learn). What makes the story worth following after that relationship is essentially thrown away, is that Eli doesn't regret it. Even though some rather strange things are going on and Amanda is in the middle of it, Eli's love is undeniable and he's willing to go to great lengths to prove it.
There are small doses of horror spread out over this movie, but I'd probably call it a supernatural love drama. Think of movies like "The Notebook", but add a very dark mystery and thriller elements to it. I also kept thinking of "Lightning Bug", but that's probably mostly because it's an independent movie about a problematic family situation in the South. Oddly enough, though, I don't seem to be reminded of any horror stories. And that probably speaks for itself, as I repeat: it's not a horror movie. At least not in that sense.
And what a cast! Spencer Daniels as Eli is what holds the movie together, and he's a kid you really care for. You understand what his character wants, and that he will go anywhere for it to happen. But the movie is nothing without the rest of the cast. Brad Dourif in one of his best roles as Waylon, Clay Wilcox as the father that you can't decide if you root for or not, Alexia Fast as the girl that represents everything you wanted in a girl at that age, Marianne Hagan as the sad mother who has accepted her life, and finally Sarah Steele as Eli's friend Katie, the girl who takes us out of the sad situation, even if just for a little while. The cast is the key, most definitely.
It's with a mix of sadness and happiness that "Last Kind Words" ends. You're not surprised by what has happened, but that doesn't make it any less dramatic. I, for one, was absolutely taken by this story. I can admit to enjoying a good love story, and this is a great mix of love and hate, hope and despair. Which is what a love story should be built of. This is more than your typical love story, however, and is one that can be enjoyed by romantics, thrill seekers and horror fans alike. No doubt a recommendation!