Director Sara Summa paints “The Last to See Them” as the anti-thriller, it’s the calm before the storm, as four family members living in a remote farm in the Italian countryside are doomed to die horrendous murders in the middle of the night. What we see is the hours leading up to their death as… well nothing happens. Absolutely nothing happens. Director Sara Summa’s “The Last to See Them” has all the ingredients for a brutally creepy, and unsettling thriller but it amounts to a disappointingly empty posturing of the antithesis of the genre.
Summa establishes her thriller with a prologue that reveals that in 2012, a family of four was found murdered and bound in their home—allegedly mob ties were suspected, but there were no concrete resolutions. This is supposed to be a narrative about what happened to them before their horrible murders. Except that nothing happens in this movie that purports to uphold this idea that we’re watching a thriller. Summa unfolds “The Last to See Them” in a methods of undercutting our expectations by literally delivering nothing that leads in to these murders. There is no real clue, or hint, or even foreshadowing. What Summa does is set up a ton of pathways that could have possibly, maybe, potentially led to these terrible murders.
And then when it’s time to offer up even a slight hint, it comes to a dreadful close. Summa tries to vainly find the terror in the mundane, looking at how sudden life can be, and how evil can pounce any time, but it’s so poorly realized. The pacing is a slog, the atmosphere is non-existent, and the whole affair is painfully dull. Summa has the hook just fine, but skimps out on any kind of reward for investing so much time in what occurs (and lack thereof). There’s the constant shot of a car driving up to the winding road leading to the family’s house, but there’s literally nothing else that pays off for even the most patient audience members. There are lingering scenes of the patriarch of the family peeling an orange, there’s a long scene of mom Alice and daughter Dora washing dishes after dinner, the family squabbles over seasoning on spaghetti, Dora even teaches her neighbor how to make a pie.
All of this is cut together with large shots of the family’s land overlooking the farm, and then Summa basically pulls everything back and closes the film with absolutely nothing. I’m not one to who has have activity non-stop in a thriller, but “The Last to See Them” has nothing. Nothing happens. There are no events or anything remotely dramatic that unfolds, and it’s sad that the only redeeming trait I can muster up is that, at least, it’s barely eighty minutes in length. I imagine this will be fiercely polarizing when it grabs a larger audience very soon.
Cinepocalypse 2019 runs from June 13th until June 20th.