M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Six of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2015 and going through September 30, 2016. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on October 6, 2015. Available on DVD, BluRay, and On Demand from Magnet Releasing!
LAST SHIFT (2014)
Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
Written by Anthony DiBlasi & Scott Poiley
Starring Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, J LaRose, Natalie Victoria, Sarah Sculco, Kathryn Kilger, Mary Lankford Poiley, Randy Molnar
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
I knew absolutely nothing about this film upon going into it and was subsequently knocked on my ass at the mood, ambience, and pants-shittingly scary moments LAST SHIFT is filled with.
A rookie cop named Jessica (Juliana Harkavy) is assigned to guard the last shift of a closed down police station. But as the shift goes on, strange and paranormal things begin happening linking to a horrific series of event that occurred in the past at the police station.
Simple, succinct, and precise: that’s what this film is in the way it is set up and executed. This is a simple alone in the house story, but LAST SHIFT is done with so much ambiance and attention to light, lack of light, sound, and the absence of sound that it really does assault your senses as Jessica tries to make her way through the labyrinthine station and find out just what the hell is going on. Unfolding almost like a first-person shooter video game, we are on the shoulders of Jessica the whole way through, taking every tentative and terror-fueled step with her.
This film would have fallen apart had the wrong person been cast as the lead, but Harkavy exudes the right amount of grit and innocence to really convince you that she is both a dedicated cop, but also way out of her depth. Jessica is the daughter of a police officer, and through very few lines she is able to communicate the weight she carries to follow in her father’s footsteps. Little beats such as the way Jessica recites the officer’s code when she is entering a particularly terrifying hallway or dark room give you just enough insight into this character who is trying to be tough, but experiencing the most terrifying night of her life. Harkavy is definitely someone we are going to be seeing more of, as this is an impressive debut for her. She is pretty much the sole person in this film and the center of attention the entire time.
But there are other creatures in this “abandoned” precinct, and the imagery are truly terrifying. While there is a sort of SILENT HILL vibe going on, the film really does a lot with very little, such as bloody bags over the faces of hanged corpses, the sound of creaking bones as a ghost crawls up from behind, and the pentagram-carved face of the Manson-like killer. This is a film filled with images that will disturb and haunt you.
Paired with the haunting imagery is director Anthony DiBlasi’s expert use of wide shots to symbolize Jessica’s isolation and use and absence of sounds. The film really does everything it can to pull you into this station along with Jessica. It’s a film where those too afraid to watch the screen will have to somehow cover both their eyes and ears as both senses are masterfully taunted and haunted in this film.
This is a simple premise, sort of like an ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 by way of REC, but it is truly excellent in terms of building tension and delivering bone-rattling scares. I highly recommend LAST SHIFT to be placed on your must see list, as it is the type of sleeper hit you’ll be grateful for finding…that is, until the lights go out and you try to go to sleep afterwards.
THE 2015-2016 COUNTDOWN!
#5 – LAST SHIFT
#6 – DON’T BREATHE
#7 – TRAIN TO BUSAN
#8 – THE FINAL GIRLS
#9 – THE SHALLOWS
#10 – MASKS
#11 – KRAMPUS
#12 – AVA’S POSSESSION
#13 – BODY
#14 – THE WAILING
#15 – THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE
#16 – MORGAN
#17 – DEATHGASM
#18 – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
#19 – DER BUNKER
#20 – DECAY
#21 – EMELIE
#22 – NINA FOREVER
#23 – HUSH
#24 – THE MIND’S EYE
#25 – DARLING
#26 – SUN CHOKE
#27 – SUMMER CAMP
#28 – BASKIN
#29 – HOLIDAYS
#30 – THE HALLOW
#31 – SOUTHBOUND
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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