Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5   User Rating 4 out of 5
The Last Great Wilderness (2003)

A low-budget feature from brothers David and Alistair Mackenzie, "The Last Great Wilderness" begins as a comedy gangster thriller, then wanders into horror film territory (which is why it's already been described as Monarch of the Glen meets "The Wicker Man"), before subverting all expectations and delivering something altogether different instead.

Charlie (Alistair Mackenzie) is on his way to burn down the house of the musician who ran off with his wife. Vincente (Jonny Phillips) is a Spanish/Cockney Lothario fleeing from a vicious mobster who wants to castrate him.

Meeting up at a service station on the way to Scotland, they're an unlikely pair of road trippers, yet they're not half as weird as the people they encounter when they run out of petrol near an isolated guesthouse in the Highlands...

Shot in a rough'n'ready style on digital video - where the washed out colours give the misty Highlands an uneasy atmosphere - this captures the otherworldly quality of the glens.

It's a shame, then, that the focus on the contrived, oddball characters squanders the film's initial promise.

It ends up chasing after a silly plot in which psychotherapist Ruaridh (David Hayman) leads his patients and the new arrivals towards a rather unconvincing kind of redemption.

Blighted by production difficulties and suffering from the hopeful naiveté which is normally found in a first feature (it's actually the director's fourth film), "The Last Great Wilderness" is a quirky oddity that, in spite of its faults, is a refreshing riposte to the blandness of much mainstream film production.

There's enough verve here to suggest that David MacKenzie's leap into big-budget filmmaking (with adaptations of Alexander Trocchi's novel "Young Adam", and Patrick McGrath's "Asylum") might promise greater things yet.

End Credits

Director: David Mackenzie

Writer: Alistair Mackenzie, David Mackenzie, Michael Tait

Stars: Alistair Mackenzie, Jonny Phillips, Victoria Smurfit, David Hayman, Ewan Stewart

Genre: Drama

Length: 96 minutes

Cinema: 09 May 2003

Country: UK

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