KIK Corporation is attempting to dig for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Environmentalist James Hoffman (James LeGros) is on hand to make sure everything is on the up and up, much to the chagrin of drilling team leader Ed Pollack (Ron Perlman). With the schedule being grounded to halt due to an unusually warm winter and Hoffman's erring on the side of caution, Pollack's patience is wearing thin. With another team member showing signs of cabin fever and added drama of Hoffman sleeping with a former lover of Pollack's, tempers and tensions run high.
Is it all an unfortunate coincidence, perhaps hydrogen sulfide gas released from the permafrost, or is something much more sinister and super natural lurking in the harsh Alaska climate?
This film contains examples of:
- Abandoned Hospital Awakening: The ending scene is that of the only surviving researcher, Abby Sellers, waking up alone in a deserted hospital with no recollection of arriving there. A news anchorman is broadcasting over a television in the waiting room about natural disasters occurring nationwide. She discovers a male employee who has committed suicide by hanging himself in one of the rooms.
- Death by Falling Over: After going Laughing Mad, Dawn attacks Abby in the infirmary. Abby pushes her off and Dawn falls and hits her head on the corner of a stainless steel bench and breaks her neck.
- Driven to Suicide: Almost played straight. The character was technically killed; however he DID disrobe to go out into the freezing winter night.
- Later, another member sets off into the snow without his shoes, and in the very end, Abby finds that the doctor at her hospital has hung himself.
- Eerie Arctic Research Station: In the Arctic region of Northern Alaska, an oil company's advance team struggles to establish a drilling base that will forever alter the pristine land. After one team member is found dead, a disorientation slowly claims the sanity of the others as each of them succumbs to a mysterious fear.
- The End of the World as We Know It: Implied by the title and the ending. At the very least, Abby wakes up in a city destroyed by the same phenomena that were affecting her team.
- Gaia's Vengeance
- Giving Them the Strip: Pollack falls through the ice into the river and his foot gets wedged between two rocks. Hoffman tries to pull him out, but he can only get out by taking off his boot.
- Green Aesop
- Hard-to-Light Fire: Hoffman attempting to save Pollock after the latter falls through the ice.
- Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Despite freezing temperatures, the characters regularly walk around outside without facial gear so that we can see all of those actor faces.
- A House Divided:
- Jerkass: Mostly Pollack, though Hoffman comes across this way as well, intentionally or otherwise. Eventually they have to team up, though.
- The Last Title: The title.
- Laughing Mad: Dawn goes insane and murders Motor, the station mechanic. When Abby finds her shortly afterwards, Dawn starts laughing insanely and attacks her.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Is the Wendigo loose or is this all a matter of "sour gas" released through the melting permafrost?
- Mysterious Antarctica: Alaska this time, but pretty much played straight.
- Nothing Is Scarier
- Space Whale Aesop: Stop drilling for oil in Alaska, or ghost moose will destroy human civilization. No, really.
- Title Drop: Documentation and research found in an abandoned shack in the middle of the Arctic by another team member suggest that the Earth is releasing 'The Last Winter'.
- Wendigo: One of the characters opines that nature itself has turned against mankind. Documentation and research found in an abandoned shack in the middle of the Arctic by another team member suggest that the Earth is releasing 'The Last Winter'. This implies that the rapacious, virus-like behavior of oil-seeking humans has resurrected the 'ghosts' of the fossil-fuels being siphoned out of the ground. The chief catalyst here is allegedly the spirit of the Wendigo; Dawn, while treating one of Elliot's nose bleeds, refers to a similar spirit from Algonquin mythology known as the Chenoo.