Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Last Horror Movie

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Dammit, I didn't see The First Horror Movie.



The Last Horror Movie – 3 out of 5

So, apparently, in 2003 the very last horror film was produced and the world was not informed.  The audacity that some directors and producers showed the business and continued to make films within this genre is just sickening.  They have no respect—wait, I’m sorry, I’m being told that it was just the title of the film and not actually a mandate or declaration that no other horror films shall be produced or filmed.  Alright, I’m just going to lay it out on the table and admit that I panicked and couldn’t think of any other way to start this review.  The Last Horror Movie is actually a pretty unique film  my friend told me about and I literally had no idea for the best way to open this review.  So…with that embarrassment out of the way, let’s just pretend this didn’t happen and let’s move on to the synopsis.

*cough*

What starts as a cheap slasher film takes a turn for the strange for the viewer when they learn that the VHS tape they rented is edited over before the opening kill.  The viewer is suddenly looking at an ordinary looking man name named Max (Kevin Howarth) who starts to inform them that he is a killer.  Slowly, as the film progresses, he regales them with tales and videos of his attacks and even shows himself teaching an apprentice on his ways.  The question over whether what the viewer is seeing is a part of the original film, a joke, or something far more frightening starts to form but, by the time the horrifying answer is revealed, it’s already too late…

And this is the horror film the killer decided to record over and not something
like Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween?  There's no justice in the world.

Without a doubt, The Last Horror Movie might be the most unique “found footage” film I’ve ever seen.  Unlike films like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, this movie has the most solid foundation of logic for why the filming is being done and how it’s being found and distributed (for the most part, this element of The Blair Witch worked as well but not so much in Activity).  Sure, the idea that a serial killer would film his killings and then take the time to edit them into videos at a rental facility may seem very dated by today’s standard thanks to digital media and the extinction of nearly every video store in the country but, by 2003 standards, the logic holds up more than the idea that an annoying couple decided to film their haunting activities and the police that found the footage felt it was necessary to leave in the douche-y dude's attempts to film a sex tape and then said, "Yes, let's upload this to the internet for everyone to see."

Please someone take the time to write some slash-fic where Max kills Micah
from Paranormal Activity.

Unlike most horror films that fill up the genre and the subgenre of “found footage,” this feature doesn’t feel as over-the-top as a lot of the other products feel.  There’s no supernatural monster prowling around and never seen clearly and even the more grounded element of featuring a serial killer doesn’t feel as fantastic as other films that feature this can get.  When you combine an excellent performance from the lead that is very charismatic, charming and spooky at the same time and add in a very controlled use of blood and gore, you have a film that feels very authentic and something that comes off pretty unsettling.  Matters are only assisted as the film isn’t making you a passive viewer like so many other films but rather puts you in the place of the viewer and makes you an active participant.   For all intents and purposes, you are the person who rented this film and watching Max kill and make thinly veiled threats that you, the viewer, might be next makes the film very uncomfortable to sit through.

If you're looking for gore, this isn't the movie for you.  The shock comes from
other factors in this one.

Awww, someone looks tired from all the killing he's
doing.
However, there were some flaws to The Last Horror Movie that held it back.  I can overlook that it is dated but there are some other issues that kept the film from being more impactful for me.  Kevin Howarth’s performance is extremely great and he makes the killer likable and detestable at the same time but other performances can’t match him.  Some of them are very weak and others are just passable.  Additionally, the film has a problem with “telling, not showing” as the feature is very dialogue heavy and much of the running time is the character of Max talking directly to you, the viewer.  While this makes sense for the overall premise and narrative of the story, it does end up hurting the flow and any momentum this film can build up.  This ends up taking away some of the film’s shock value.  Finally, speaking of shock, the realistic feel the film offers ends up being a double-edged sword because, on one hand, it is unsettling but, on the other, it lacks the immediate shock value.  There are no jump scares, no tone setting music and the fact that it is a slow burn rather than an immediate explosion of scare, spook and thrills can sometimes make the lead up to the killer ending moments feel a tad tedious.  However, ultimately, the tedium is worth it because I can't emphasize enough how amazing the ending is.

And to think, this lady would have been safe if she just rented Flubber or
Glitter...wait, on second thought, if I had a choice of those films or
a film edited by a serial killer--actually, I don't know which is more horrifying.

The Last Horror Movie is definitely unsettling and extremely unique but doesn’t quite feel like it lives up to the potential it has.  There’s a lot I like about the film and I was capable of overlooking the fact that it does feel very dated due to the story hinging on both the format of VHS and having video stores but the story moves a little too slowly and relies too heavy on exposition being outright spoken to the viewer by the lead and those are a little harder to ignore.  Still, even with these flaws, the film still made me feel uncomfortable and left me with a chill running down my spine when the credits hit.  In the end, however, this film really showcases and brings out the promise and potential of a subgenre that feels built on laziness…and this came out four years before Paranormal Activity was released unto mass audiences and pretty much paved the way for the formulaic and cliché way we see all “found footage” films nowadays.

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