Last Shift DVD Review

   At its heart, horror is the purest of all cinematic genres - the one which inspires the most visceral and guttural reactions from its audience. From the early days of the medium, film-makers have used all the tools at their disposal to illicit feelings of dread and fear from those who dared, and secretly enjoyed, to watch. Last Shift, directed by Anthony DiBlasi, is very much such a movie.

   We meet Jennifer (Juliana Harkavy), a rookie police officer who has been assigned to cover the last shift of a transitioning police station on its last night before closure. She is alone, isolated in a claustrophobic location, stranded until the following morning. If the set-up is reminiscent of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, the supernatural and lingering dread which follows is a complete departure.

   From the earliest frames, the atmospheric composition of the movie evokes fear in the audience even if, initially, we're not entirely sure why. All we know is that somehow Last Shift is sparking anxiety inside of us - our situation mirrors Jennifer's too perfectly as she wanders corridors afraid of sounds that were never emitted and apparitions which may not be there. This is a film in which evil lingers ominously before we've even borne witness to any physical horror; Last Shift positively breathes dread in each of its frames. Much of the credit for this must be provided to Harkavy who provides an empathetic realism in her performance.

   As the movie creeps slowly onwards, the tension is ramped up as we slowly begin to understand the source of the horror. A sinister, satanic cult - presumed defeated - may have emerged as paranormal manifestations ready to wreak havoc once more. Foreboding is replaced by regular scares as recognisable horror tropes are employed - flashes of light and sounds stab at our senses. A melodic score has been eschewed in favour of ominous ambiance which throbs and permutates, gristles and squeals when we least expect it to. Inertia is replaced with stinging sforzandos to shock us and stimulate our anguished worries. The sonic scope of the film's sound design is spine-tingling.

   Last Shift is a simple and concise horror film which operates with a straightforward set-up: a woman is left in a terrifying location and scary things happen. Its a film less concerned with bigger themes and more with inspiring anxiety, judders and terror during a compact 83 minutes. DiBlasi's movie exists with the sole intention of providing scares - both dread-filled anxiety and jump-cut jolts. Its a movie whose strengths lie not its narrative but, rather, in the sensations we feel. In this way, its more like a fairground attraction or ghost train or very much like the spectacular horrors found if the early days of film.

Win Last Shift on DVD

Don't forget you have until this Thursday (21/1) to enter my competition to win one of three DVDs of the film!
Click on the below picture to find out how:

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