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John’s Horror Corner: Last Shift (2015), the story of a rookie cop in a haunted police station.

March 9, 2016

 

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MY CALL: I was generally unimpressed and disappointed with this satanic haunting film. MORE MOVIES LIKE Last ShiftI’ve read many people comparing this drivel to Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) and I honestly don’t see it, outside of the setting being the last night at a police precinct.  I consider this comparison to be an insult to the late John Carpenter.

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The set up isn’t exactly promising. A rookie police officer (Juliana Harkavy; The Walking Dead) shows up to a near abandoned police station for her first shift on the job.  Young, attractive and seemingly too meek for conflict, she strikes me as no more than tenderized final girl victim bait for whatever evils herein lurk.  Unfortunately for us, the greatest evil here is in the poor filmmaking.

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Without easing us into a false sense of security, our cadet encounters all manner of flickering lights, strange noises, objects moving on their own, a disturbed hobo (J. LaRose; Insidious Chapter 2, The Devil’s Carnival) who keeps “appearing” in the building, slamming doors and mysterious phone calls. Among the disordered melee of distractions, very little seems nearly as effective as intended and most of it is just plain annoying.

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With all this going on she doesn’t seem to acknowledge how weird this all is until she’s in too deep. She doesn’t call for back-up…perhaps for fear of being embarrassed on her first day.  But before we know it we learn our rookie is not alone in the station and that she is somehow connected to its haunting.

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Writer/director Anthony DiBlasi (Dread, The Profane Exhibit, Cassadaga) stencils the film’s contours with strong supernatural influences. For example, the film “borrows” the iconic chair stacking scene from Poltergeist (1982; podcast discussion) and subsequently Dark Skies (2013). Other scenes (e.g., the locker room scene) likewise echo the Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) kitchen cabinet scene, the spectral corpse drag from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) or the fast-twitching face-shaking of The House on Haunted Hill (1999).

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The story comes to include a satanic cult of murderous devil worshipping fanatics. I found most of the scenes, ploys and acting to be vastly underwhelming.  However, a few scenes were creepy and quite effective.  Again, “a few.”  In fact, the bulk of the movie felt random and in desperate need of synthesis and direction…and talent.  There, I said it.

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Among the film’s successes were scenes of ghosts, disturbing imagery involving corpses, and unexpected gore. The gore is neither frequent nor abundant, but its presentation represents the best execution of the film.  Otherwise, this chaotic fever dream is nothing I would ever recommend.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2016 5:23 pm

    I disagree with this review. I thought it was a pretty disturbing movie and the use of light and gore was effective. There were elements of predictability, but not enough to discount its interesting premise. I didn’t find Officer Loren to be meek. Sure, she didn’t always make the right choices, but she took action when necessary and was brave in the face of danger. But, since horror movies are subjective, I can see why it might not be your jam.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      September 12, 2016 8:06 pm

      I think I saw more positive reviews than negative. I just fell hard in the negatives.

Trackbacks

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