Reel Advice from the Video Store Guy
By Steve Anderson
May 1st, 2005

Last Shift

Last Shift
Directed by Anthony DiBiasi
Written by Anthony DiBiasi, Scott Poiley
Starring Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, J. LaRose
90 mins

I give "Last Shift" due credit for having some of the freakiest box art ever generated by half of a twisted facial expression clearly carved over with a pentagram. As we all well know, however, box art means quite little in determining a movie's quality. The plot presents an exciting proposition, but can "Last Shift" capitalize on freaky box art and intriguing storyline?

"Last Shift" follows a police station that's undergoing its titular last shift before closing down. Joining the station's last shift is a young rookie, out for her first shift, which is something of an ironic twist. The twists go from ironic to terrifying as the station is attacked by otherworldly forces, including a revived and profoundly bloodthirsty cult, whose leader is currently located with, despite having committed suicide a year ago that night. In standard horror movie fashion, that means disaster afoot, and this station's last shift may well be the last one for everyone inside as well.

If that sounds familiar, congratulations, you know your John Carpenter. One part "Prince of Darkness" and one part "Assault on Precinct 13," this might well be the first time I've seen someone combining Carpenters like this since my last home improvement project. Immediately, I give them credit for making even the menu screen spooky. It capitalizes on that sweet box art, so let it run for a bit, because it by itself is freaky. I regret that they didn't go the extra mile and throw in a jump scare when you pressed a button on the menu, but this is almost like being sad that the greatest banana split ever had only two cherries on top, not three.

Execution is not quite as cut-and-dried as the X-meets-Y plot would suggest, but I give it due credit; at its roots, "Last Shift" is a ghost story with a few very freaky twists backed up by some killer art, and that's enough to make the end result surprisingly potent. If you seek a pleasant ghost story, look about you; this sucker's a winner by most every standard. It spaces its scares out fairly well, but also keeps them moving at a decent clip so as to make the one almost blend into the next. There's very little let-up here, and though some might call that a mistake--it's better to give the audience time to calm down from one scare before launching into the next--others might instead call it a relentless string of shocks. That's not out of line by any stretch, and this does a wonderful job of keeping the shocks coming. I'm all in favor of such an approach as it makes for a good scary time.

The ending is something of a surprise, and does a sound job of capping off the festivities. The last ten minutes will prove to be a real corker, firing off virtually every scare left in the quiver in grand fashion.

Special features include your choice of English or Spanish subtitles, a making-of featurette, information on the film's sound design and green screen effects, the original Paymon interrogation viral video, a behind the scenes photo gallery, a poster gallery, and trailers for "The Blood Lands," "Tiger House," "Skin Trade," and "The Deadlands."

While "Last Shift" isn't quite the chocolate-and-peanut-butter I'd hoped it would be, it's still at least a good quality ghost story packed with both chills and visceral scares . That combination should satisfy most any taste, and in the end, will deliver a satisfactory, if familiar, overall experience.