Last Shift (2014)
‘Last Shift' is a film I have seen appear on numerous 'top’ horror lists over the years, yet never felt drawn to it for one reason or another. If, like me, you have encountered this film and assumed that it would not be to your liking then I urge you to give it another chance. Restricted to the confines of a disused police station, and taking place during one single 4 hour period, the claustrophobic nature of the set location awakened my senses and had me curious within minutes after the opening credits. It’s fair to say that I was was fully engaged in everything else that unfolded there after. In regards to the casting, I believe films success lies solely on the shoulder of Jessica played by Juliana Harkavy. Not only does she do a fantastic job of single handedly carrying the majority of this films run time, but I also found the portayal of her character to be extremely convincing and faultless. Had a different actress taken on the role, I'm not sure this film would have been as engaging as it was. Given that this film focuses solely on her, over a short period of time and in the singular location, it’s difficult to not require an engaging performance from her as an actress, something I can say she more than delivers on. The direction and cinematography was great, continuously moving and changing the perspectives of the camera provides an enormous amount of discomfort and unsettlement. The practical and makeup effects are captivating, creating some extremely disturbing visuals and scares. This is combined with some impressive use of lighting and I would strongly recommend watching this in a completely dark room for the ultimate experience. There are the occasional jump scare here and there, but I feel these attributes are synonymous to this specific sub genre and as much as I dislike them, they are kind of expected here. As with most films in this sub genre, the plot is usually pretty thin, but not here. I was engaged by everything going on from start to finish. I think having just a short 88 minute runtime helps keep everything nice and compact, without running the risk of being bloated by exposition or having slower periods in-between to break things up. It’s difficult to find the right balance between delivering the right amount of exposition whilst also not divulging to much information to the audience at once, this film manages to careful interweave both of these elements without breaking the pace of the narrative. This is a perfectly executed, non-stop, heart pounding thrill ride that should be seen by everyone, and has now become part of my list for annual viewings. This is without a doubt one of the most impressive haunting/psychological horror films I have come across to date. The ambiguity of ghostly vengeance or psychological breakdown is a verdict left for the viewers to decide. I can see this being something that won't land well with everyone and for me it will require a second viewing to decide. However, my over all experience majorly outweighs the conflicting opinions I have on the closing moments. This came as a very welcomed surprise to me, and I strongly recommend 'Last Shift' to those yet to see it.