BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE LAST SHOWING / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PHIL HAWKINS / SCREENPLAY: PHIL HAWKINS / STARRING: ROBERT ENGLUND, FINN JONES, EMILY BERRINGTON, MALACHI KIRBY / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 25TH
This low-budget, slow-burning horror has a very simple premise. Opening things up, we get introduced to Martin (Jones) and Allie (Berrington), a young couple who are out on a ‘date night.’ After taking in some cocktails, the pair visit their local cinema for a late night showing of The Hills Have Eyes 2. In said cinema, we find Stuart (Englund). With the young Clive (Kirby) as his manager, Stuart is old school in his approach to film. Dedicated to giving a piece of film the respect and attention it deserves, Stuart finds it hard to stomach how careless and unconcerned people seem to be about the small details that matter. Driven to his wits’ end by his employment and its environment, Stuart snaps and decides to make his own twisted movie.
As The Last Showing progresses, it becomes clear that Englund’s besmirched former projectionist has concocted a master plan. Pulling strings from afar, he is the writer, director, editor, and audience of the movie that he is filming using various cameras across the cinema complex. Utilising the tools at his disposal, like the screens dotted around the site and the power to control the audio in the building, not to mention the controls to the electronic shutters that confine the cinema to isolation in the midst of a retail shopping park, Stuart manipulates his cast, Martin, Allie, and Clive, in order to give himself the movie experience that he has been craving.
A minimalistic, charismatic thriller that slowly unravels a well constructed, slick and sinister story, The Last Showing is one of the most darkly charming British films of the last few years. Englund’s puppeteer is the crazed cat that leads the poor, unsuspecting mice through his atmospheric maze. And that’s wherein the film’s charm lies: in its tension-heavy, slow-burning design. Sure, certain moments, particularly some of the earlier actions of Jones’ Martin, may defy logic a tad, but there’s enough warmth and genuine care to The Last Showing that these small gripes can be easily parlayed.
At the heart of the movie, holding things together, is a great turn from Robert Englund. Best known for the over-the-top, aggressive, sadistic Freddy Krueger, his role of Stuart is completely removed from Springwood’s famed child killer. Understated, calculated and cunning, and also with an accent that sounds eerily like Star Wars’ Anthony Daniels, Stuart is a “villain” who often makes valid points on modern cinemagoers, even if his methods are a tad extreme.
Clever, crazed and contagious, The Last Showing is a film that is awash with tradition, twists, atmosphere, and charm. Does for multiplexes what Jaws did for water.