Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Film Review: Last Shift (2014)

Last Shift (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best horror experiences in recent years."

On her first day, Officer Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) is assigned the last shift at a closing precinct. As she begins her lonesome night, Loren is disturbed by an ominous presence...

Last Shift is a rather simple film with a very familiar premise. The film follows Officer Loren on her first day. After meeting her eccentric sergeant, Loren is left by her lonesome. It's not long until she begins to receive eerie phone calls, encounter strange visitors, and experience surreal events. To her utter dismay, she eventually finds these strange happenings may be linked to a notorious cult with devious intentions. That's practically all that happens in the film. There's not exactly a lot to talk about, but it does have quite a bit going on. The plot leads to a satisfying conclusion. Considering all of the buildup, though, it did feel a little underwhelming.

Last Shift is a great horror film. It crafts a very eerie and exciting tale of terror through a simple plot. In terms of horror, the film excels in its presentation. It's brimming with nightmarish and surreal visuals, conjuring an impression of dread. Of course, there are also plenty of jump-scares. Although many are predictable, there are a few very creative jolters here. These jump-out-and-scare-you moments are also bolstered by the moderate suspense. The setting is also used well — it's refreshing to get out of that haunted house environment every once in a while. Also, although the plot was simple, I did feel it offer a surprise for each predictable turn.

There are a few noteworthy issues, though. First and foremost, the premise felt very familiar at the start. The whole rookie female cop and barren precinct immediately reminded me of Let Us Prey; fortunately, that was also a great movie and that's where the similarities end. The entire film is also reliant on Loren's ignorance, practically to the point of using her as a crutch. So much happens in this film, but she can't seem to grip the situation. "How did all these locker doors open? Must be a draft..." However, although these issues are notable, I only mention them for certain fans. In my opinion, I honestly didn't feel like these issues hindered the film too much.

The acting was great, too. Juliana Harkavy was a very strong leading lady. Joshua Mikel was also sinister in his supporting role. I didn't have any issues with the acting. The film looked good. The music fit the tone well. The editing helped conjure some great jump-scares and some mind-bending scenes — I liked it. The film is directed and co-written by Anthony DiBlasi; Scott Poiley also shares the writing credits. The film is directed very well, creating a frightening and engaging film through a variety of horror. The writing is more than serviceable, despite its reliance on plot contrivances; however, I did feel like it fizzled before the conclusion.

Overall, Last Shift is a great horror film. In fact, I'd says it's one of the best horror experiences in recent years. Although the story has a few shortcomings, the horror is very effective. The suspense, the atmosphere, the visuals... It all comes together to leave a dreadful impression of terror. I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it to horror fans.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence, blood, and disturbing visuals.

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