Dun dun dun? More like dun dun dumb….
Anthony DiBlasi’s 2014 horror film boasts an unbelievable 100% from Rotten Tomatoes, which simply doesn’t make sense to me. The film is a boiler plate slab of genre horror if there has ever been one. The viewer follows Jess on her first day as the sole officer watching the last shift of an old department. Throughout the course of the night, Jess is taunted and terrorized by the ghosts of a cult-like family who killed themselves in the precinct.
The set-up is cliché, but it could be an effective chiller if DiBlasi had any respect for audience. Once again, we are subjected to an inanely stupid protagonist. It becomes clear quite early that there is something wrong occurring. Does Jess call for help? Nope. Here is where the movie forces the viewer to suspend their disbelief on something that we shouldn’t have had to, and this movement makes the suspension hard to maintain.
One of the tropes of horror is that people are trapped in a situation where no help can arrive. Often, this is done by forcing the protagonists away from help—a remote location or a supernatural entity blocks aid. Sometimes, much to my chagrin, the film decides to have no one believe the protagonist and leaves them to face whatever turmoil alone. In this film it is the people capable of coming to help that bring up the haunting, and she ignores them! Last Shift mixes this up by having the protagonist fully capable of summoning aid, but inexplicably choosing to continue alone.
Horror films must place the protagonist in a realistic level of danger. By forcing a scenario (a rookie alone who refuses help), the film will ultimately fail. Little sympathy can be gained from the audience when the person we are supposed to care about does nothing to help themselves. Further, Jess is bizarrely calm in the face of several events, but nearly breaks down at the sight of others. For me, these moments were inconsistent and seemed as though they didn’t know how to nuance her character properly.
There are a few decent jumps scares. If you are looking for a cheap thriller, Last Shift won’t totally disappoint. The best part of this movie is the makeup on the corpses, particularly with the masks (you will know what I am talking about if you see it). The props team deserves a ton of credit, and breathes life into an otherwise dull film. The film fulfills basic genre needs without going beyond the threshold in any way. For that reason, I score it a 6/10.