Shot right here in good old Blighty, The Last Showing is the latest in a relatively small line of horror movies set in the cinema, films such as Popcorn, Midnight Movie and Demons, films that I consider (especially in the case of Popcorn) some of my personal favourites. So how would Robert Englund’s latest foray into the horror genre fare?
The Last Showing tells the story of ageing projectionist Stuart Lloyd (Englund) who, feeling sidelined by the advances in technology and by the growing apathy he sees towards cinema at the multiplex he works at, seeks revenge on a generation that no longer requires his skills. Trapping a young couple, Martin (Jones) and Allie (Berrington), inside the cinema during a midnight screening, he sets a deadly plot in motion to make them the unwitting stars of his own chilling horror movie. As they struggle for their lives, the pair are unaware that the CCTV cameras are rolling and that the stage is set for a fatal finale.
It’s safe to say this film sets out it’s stall early. Through The Last Showing‘s villain Stuart we learn, even before the film has really got to the core of its plot, a lot about the politics behind the film – having much to say about the fate of cinema in the face of rising piracy and online streaming services; as well as the state of horror cinema, the growth in extreme gore (“or torture porn as they call it” to steal a line from the movie) and the death of original ideas in the genre. Yet despite the protestations of Stuart, the films toys with the audience and spins a story that is as derivative as it comes – yet that is seemingly the point of the film. For all of Stuart’s ramblings about horror, cinema et al., his “creation” still relies on the very same genre conventions as any horror movie.
If there’s one major selling point for this film it’s Robert Englund. The actor, known best for his wisecracking, over the top role in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, here takes a totally different tack with a character that is understated, charismatic and cunning – almost the antithesis of Freddy Krueger! Englund’s performance in The Last Showing recalls that of his television work, especially the same quiet understated characterisation he brought to the short-lived show Nightmare Cafe (one of my favourite Englund performances). Thankfully Englund’s sinister character is such a pleasure to watch (and hate) that you can forgive some of the more amateur acting on show in the film. Special mention must also go to Keith Allen, who appears at the end of the film, in little more than a cameo, as a detective investigating the situation at the cinema – with only limited screen time Allen manages to make for a compelling cop and – given the film’s ending – I would REALLY like to see Englund and Allen go head to head in a possible sequel.
Yet despite a pretty decent cat and mouse story and some great acting from Robert Englund, there is one major problem with The Last Showing. The “hero” is a fucking idiot. His actions are that of a moron, he doesn’t think in the slightest before rushing in to situations. It’s so bloody frustrating! However I’m guessing that the point of the film, Englund’s Stuart is frustrated by the moronic, younger folks around him and by the end of the film the audience is too! Honestly? I’ve never hated a hero so much as I hated Jones’ character Martin.
Led by a veteran of the genre, The Last Showing is very much an old-school horror film, using plot twists and tension rather than gore and effects. Which, given the virtues Englund’s Stuart extols, isn’t that the point?
Phil Wheat @Nerdly
Genre:Thriller Screened:24th August 2014 (FF14) Rating:15 Running Time:89 Minutes Director: Phil Hawkins Cast:Robert Englund, Finn Jones, Emily Berrington, Keith Allen, Malachi Kirby, Chris Geere