Stars: Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, J. LaRose, Natalie Victoria, Sarah Sculco, Kathryn Kilger, Mary Lankford Poiley | Written and Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
Horror is at its best when there isn’t a focus on over doing special effects to try to shock the audience. If a film can make use of its location, add in some lighting and create a feeling of claustrophobia then it can create scares better than any computer can. This is the strength of Last Shift.
Jessica Loren’s (Juliana Harkavy) first shit as a police officer is to stay in a closing police station alone until the hazmat team to come pick-up some bio-hazardous waste still left in the armoury. Meant to be the only person left in the station it’s not long before she finds herself haunted by both the living and the dead.
Last Shift is smart because it builds atmosphere before the horror is brought in. Using the slow burn method of reveal Harkavy’s character becomes aware of the history of the police station as we do. Unbeknownst to here though it is a lot more active than she first things, and we get to see more hints of it than she does. The slow reveal of the story is well done, and use of a Manson like family adds to the interest. Add to that the character’s connection to this family and we have a whole pot of story elements reaching boiling point at a nice pace.
In restricting the location of the film to just one building, and making it clear that Officer Jessica Loren is all alone the audience is always on alert, especially when we see the activity escalating. There is a lot of horror that is “inspired” by other horror films, but that is also put to good use. When you use certain elements that work in other films, it tends to work well to creep out the people who have seen it before.
What director/writer Anthony DiBlasi has created with Last Shift is a film where atmosphere is more important that gore, though there is plenty gore available. This is a film that wants to mess with your head and not just say “here have some blood”. There are plenty of times that we do see gore, but it has a purpose and that is to intimidate both the character and the audience. We expect danger, but when it comes to Officer Loren, this really isn’t about killing her but breaking her. It’s almost a revenge for the connection her family has to the ghosts.
With a limited cast, claustrophobic location and good performances not only from Juliana Harkavy but the whole cast, Last Shift is an oppressing experience that delivers. If you want a film that actually manages to creep, you out then this may be a good choice. There is obviously a smaller budget in this one, and that helps it to feel more of an organic experience and not the typical Hollywood horror, and that is the power of the film.
Last Shift is an easy recommendation to horror fans, based on the simple fact that it manages to be creepy. Through the understanding of what can scare the audience, and a good slow burning story that knows how to tap into the fear of the unknown, Last Shift works because it never loses control of itself in the attempts to scare. Horror fans should make time to see this one, it’s well worth it.
Last Shift is out now on VOD and DVD from Solo Media and Matchbox Films.