Director Anthony DiBlasi
Screenplay Anthony DiBlasi, Scott Poiley
Starring Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, J. LaRose, Mary Lankford, Natalie Victoria, Sarah Sculco
After discovering this film had 100 on Rotten Tomatoes, I started watching Last Shift. At about the halfway point, I took a closer look and discovered it was for eight reviews, with an average score of 6.6 out of 10. It made me realize, Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t consider 100 to be the same thing as most might. It’s obvious that their version of 100 is that none of the reviewers say this movie stinks. This is true. The film is competently made, decently acted and exploring a unique place for a ghost story.
There are, however, no scenes that aren’t telegraphed, it’s not all that scary with really only one saving grace to the story. That’s the very end.
Juliana Harkavy is Jessica Loren, a rookie cop and the daughter of a hero who died in the line of duty a year prior. For some reason, no one considered this when they make her perform the last night patrol at the location of her father’s death, a police station that is being retired as they move down the street. The rookie gives any real indication of awareness, but I can tell you exactly where my father died and that was a quarter century ago.
When she starts the shift, she is informed that she’s supposed to stay until a HAZMAT team comes to collect some toxic evidence that no one else can touch. A lot can and will happen during this time.
The biggest challenge for me is the fact that the film is all over the place, scares wise. We understand a cult leader and his acolytes were housed there for a night, singing a cult song the whole night, until they were silent. The story given had them dying at the scene of their apprehension. We find this not to be true.
Harkavy does a nice job trying to fight through her fears, repeating an officer’s mantra and combating her visions with rationales and reason. She even uses her weapons effectively and never lets them out of her hands while she is awake.
By the time we reach the third act, we’re pretty sure that everyone she sees is some part of an illusion. Of course this is not the case. There are some pretty effective scenes, including a corpse that does a dance that seems to be out of the video for Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And there’s that surprise at the end.
Director DiBlasi does what he can with a limited budget. It’s a very effective small film, effects wise. The only drawback is the story, which doesn’t allow the viewer any room to breathe before it’s onto the next obvious scare. It would be nice to see what he could do with a smarter script. He has done some work with Clive Barker, which I will check out. It looks like another film of his, Extremity, also received 100 on Rotten Tomatoes. This time with 5 reviews. So it has that going for it.
(*** out of *****)