Dozens of movies set before, during, and after the apocalypse come out every year, so I could understand if you had missed a little gem like The Last Days in 2013.
The story begins about six weeks after the global spread of a worldwide epidemic that causes a severe form of agoraphobia.
It means those afflicted have an irrational terror and are stricken with convulsions and life-threatening breathing problems if they go outdoors.
After the first cases reported of people locking themselves in their homes or offices until they died, the disease spread uncontrollably and without cure around the world.
We closely follow the story of a young programmer from Barcelona who can no longer leave the office with his colleagues.
Their fear of going to the streets is so intense that to leave, they dig a tunnel to the subway tracks so they can move under the city.
After six weeks of nonstop digging, the exit is finally ready, and he wants to go home to his wife, who presumably stayed in their apartment.
But navigating the subway tunnels by sight is impossible, so he must team up with an obnoxious human resources employee who has stolen a GPS navigator in one of the cars in the parking lot.
Although the two loathe and despise each other, they must fight together in the bowels of a city now out of control with no more food, water, or electricity.
Their underground journey will become a full-blown odyssey in which the protagonists will doubt their survival and the fate of the entire human species.
A strange, clever and engaging apocalypse
Although the premise of The Last Days seem science fiction, there is a pathological condition that the Japanese first called Hikikomori that precisely describes this kind of extreme social isolation of this 2013 movie.
Directors David and Àlex Pastor build a solid adventure around this theme that gets right into the thick of the action without needing foreplay.
What it takes to understand how this disease arises and evolves is told in a few flashbacks where the protagonist observes the first disturbing symptoms in his office colleagues and his next-door neighbor.
Through these flashbacks intermingle with the two protagonists’ long journey, we witness the system’s collapse as the police and all kinds of services disappear.
From the ashes, a new society arises with no rules or mercy and where anyone can kill for a bit of food, and everyone now lives within the dead walls of an abandoned city.
However, we also see hope in some families and small groups of people who are incredibly adjusting to the new situation, a sign that humankind is indeed capable of adapting to anything.
Light and shadow are part of the story’s morality and realistic photography in which the characters struggle to see in the darkness.
However, I do not believe that The Last Days is dull or lacking in action; on the contrary, this 2013 movie has some exciting scenes, such as an incredible fight against an escaped bear from the Barcelona Zoo.
Small Spanish productions still prove they can keep up with any film genre, from horror to science fiction to more challenging sentimental comedies or historical dramas.
So open yourselves to the possibility of watching as many foreign movies as possible, because even overseas, there is never a shortage of good ideas.
Unknown talent from Spain
Perhaps not many people will know the cast of this 2013 movie, but The Last Days features highly capable, perhaps little-known actors in international movies.
Let’s start with the main character, Quim Gutiérrez, a believable survivor without improbable excesses who is not always right or does the right thing.
The apocalypse arrives after a long period of strenuous work at a complex computer security system, where the man was already anxious about a series of upcoming layoffs.
Yet, in the impossible situation, the guy finds the strength and courage to fight everything that crosses his path and separates him from his wife, of whom he has known nothing for months.
Helping him, certainly not out of the goodness of his heart, is an excellent Jose Coronado as the business head-cutter who was supposed to decide his employment.
Although starting as a ruthless corporatist whom, not surprisingly, everyone calls the Terminator, the man pulls out his humanity to try to get back to his hospitalized father.
The Spanish actor is perfect for giving pathos to all the scenes with that moral ambiguity that makes him undoubtedly the most compelling character.
If I had to make a criticism, I would have appreciated the female actresses’ more fabulous presence, such as Marta Etura, who plays the protagonist’s wife.
The actress gets a chance to perform almost only in flashbacks and a brief moment in the finale, but she would have deserved more minutes in this story.
Equally good but even less used is the beautiful Leticia Dolera, whom we see only in a devastating food fight scene in a supermarket.
However, they remain minor flaws in an excellent European movie that I hope you will appreciate and, perhaps, big Hollywood productions will take as an example.