Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: Phil Hawkins
Cast: Robert Englund, Finn Jones, Emily Berrington
Robert Englund will forever be known as the man who made Freddy Krueger a tangibly terrifying creature. He was also amazingly campy in 2001 Maniacs, perfectly loud in Dance of the Dead and tough as nails in Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. But, it must be said, the man has damn near outdone himself with his latest offering, The Last Showing. The moment I spotted a trailer for this film, I had a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Having now watched the flick, that warm, fuzzy feeling is a whirlwind of joyous horror induced fire burning in my belly. I can’t get over how awesome this flick is. And I can’t shake the impact that Englund leaves on the viewer.
Englund has made a career portraying roles that ooze charisma and powerful presence. It’s kind of his thing. But in The Last Showing, we see a completely different character. He’s introverted, nerdy and unassuming. He’s also a lunatic determined to make his own movie after being ushered out of his position as projectionist at a small theater. Don’t wrong a longtime movie vet, or he may just turn the tides.
Martin and Allie are off to the theater to catch a midnight screening of The Hills Have Eyes II. They’re the only ones in the building, save for Stuart (Englund) and his not-so-nice boss, Clive. And that’s all that’s needed for Stuart to put his plan in motion and make his own masterpiece. He locks everyone in the building, gets every camera in the place rolling, and step by step sets up a murderous plot, all to be captured and edited, transformed into his own cinematic treasure. Will anyone escape the theater, or will Stu succeed in manufacturing a horrifying piece of celluloid?
Englund’s performance is excellent, and he’s got good support from Finn Jones (Martin) and Emily Berrington (Allie), youngsters who rise to the occasion of matching a living legend. In fact, on the acting front no one fails. And the limited location is perfect for keeping the tension ratcheted up to wild proportions. There are no dull moments in the pic, and the screenwriting is just about airtight. Once Martin and Allie are trapped in the theater, we the viewer are too. And we’re sympathetic to the plight of the victims, though we’re never too confident they’ll escape their new prison.
The special effects are minimalized, with director Phil Hawkins more concerned on placing the characters on center stage rather than mind blowing visuals. And that’s an excellent decision. This one doesn’t need big explosions and outrageous CGI. It’s all about psychological shocks, and they linger in the mind a whole hell of a lot longer than any visual magic that could have been introduced in the picture. The bottom line is this: The Last Showing is an awesome movie, and if you’re into this kind of craziness, check it out, and pair it with Midnight Movie, a silly, but similar themed feature.