["The Last Wave"] begins so brilliantly and with such promise that it's no real surprise that the closer it gets to its apocalypse, the less effective it becomes. The film's payoff is decidedly small, recalling nothing more esoteric than the discovery of the elephants' graveyard in one of the early Tarzan movies. Yet until we arrive at this breathless anticlimax, "The Last Wave" is a movingly moody shock-film, composed entirely of the kind of variations on mundane behavior and events that are most scary and disorienting because they so closely parallel the normal….
Though the inspiration of Mr. Weir and his associates runs out before the end, "The Last Wave" is an impressive work…. He's a man whose ability to find the eerie in the commonplace might please Hitchcock.
Vincent Canby, "Mysticism Down Under," in The New York Times (© 1978 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 19, 1978 (and reprinted in The New York Times Film Reviews: 1977–1978, The New York Times Company & Arno Press, 1979, p. 263).