The Plot: Our film begins in a small diner in Grand Rapids Michigan. A young woman is closing up shop as her little brother calls to let her know he has been watching a scary movie. She tells him that he isn’t supposed to be, and just as she finishes her conversation we see the escaped killer creep up behind her – then he attacks! As he does, our video goes to static and a man’s face pops up on screen. This is Max, he has recorded over the video we all originally intended to watch called The Last Horror Movie and has instead replaced it with a sort of documentary of his life. Max intends to show us a real horror movie, as he is a serial killer with over 50 kills under his belt. Always under different circumstances, different weapons and with differing motives so that he remains untraceable. Will Max get away with his crime? Is Max real?
The Review: Horror cinema is as subjective as comedy in some ways I feel. While there are films that I think are absolutely earth shattering and fantastic, such as the brilliant Session 9 – popular opinion can be a pain. Why such a great and instantly classic bit of Independent horror is only rated as a 6.8 currently on the Internet Movie Database – I cannot tell you. The Last Horror Movie shares an even harsher 5.6 as of writing, but I find myself less argumentative about this rating there are others who feel quite a bit different about it. Generally receiving high ratings from most reviews I have dug up on the net I find myself partly agreeing with many of them and partly in complete and utter defiance of them. The part of me that really enjoyed Last Horror Movie wants to focus mainly on the innovative approach to a subject that has been done quite a few times before. There’s an actual dose of horror here in this movie, a wholehearted attempt to creep out and scare its audience and I applaud that. In this day and age where gore sometimes substitutes tension (don’t get me wrong, I am the guy writing reviews for Psycho: The Snuff Reels after all and I enjoy that stuff as well), I feel like we’ve lost some of the focus on what used to serve as more of a centerpoint for the whole concept of making a horror movie: SCARING people. Then there’s the more cynical side of me that watches The Last Horror Movie and wonders; why did we really need this when the French film Man Bites Dog all but covered the entire topic. The filmmakers do take us on a different and less comical roadtrip through the world of videotaped murder, but in moments such as the one where our leading villain Max is lifting a dead woman he has just strangled out of her car and asks his assistant behind the camera to come and help him – I flash back to the kitchen rape sequence from Man Bites Dog. I will give the filmmakers credit for having guts to make a film that treads so much on Man Bites Dog’s territory; as you’ll not find harder competition to compete with.
Last Horror Movie starts off fine enough, with the introduction to the character of Max and his world of philosophy and murder. His questioning of our natural curiosity and what makes us continue to watch something that for the purpose of the film, could very well be real. This line of thought unfortunately doesn’t exactly break new ground, as Cannibal Holocaust and the entire Italian cannibal genre did that thirty years before. However, it is an intriguing set up and the character of Max is played brilliantly by Kevin Howarth who really contributed a lot in making this a very solid movie, and is no doubt one of the main reasons so many people seem to count it as a classic. What turned me off, and may turn off others, is the constant philosophizing of Max. Near the introduction Max makes light of society blaming horror movies and gore films for characters such as he, and although it’s sane reasoning this bit of dialogue comes off as forced. I could picture the director and writer sitting in front of their computer, reading some article by some upset mother about these evil horror movies, or to use the buzzword these days: “torture porn”, that had them so hot under their collar they had to put their thoughts into writing. Creating monsters and having those monsters take up our argument doesn’t seem very constructive to me and it felt, in my eyes, horribly out of place and caused me to re-examine the character and for the rest of the picture I’m picturing the director and the writer speaking these words and not a psychopathic killer. I may go back later and rewatch the film with a renewed interest, but that one blow at the beginning set off alarms all throughout the picture. Do I hate the movie? Not at all, like I said, it is a very solid and good movie. I don’t base my reviews or opinions off of what others say either, so it wasn’t any kind of hype that turned me off from seeing this film as a newer classic of the genre or anything. I simply feel that with a promising setup and a great cast, some slight attempts by the author(s) to push an agenda that comes off as shallow really put a damper on what could have been a better situation. Like I said above though, the film does have its finer qualities and near the conclusion when the movie takes on a meta quality and Max begins to insinuate that maybe this is more than a movie. Maybe we are just another piece of his game. Maybe we could become another victim. The conclusion was what made the movie for me. Although I as an audience member could console myself in the fact that I’ve had my copy sitting around for months and if poor old Max is waiting outside for me to watch it; he’s been out there quite a while – but the way that this is pulled off is really brilliant. It could be a little hokey for some I’ll bet, but what really great scary story isn’t a little hokey? Those stories you told around the campfire that ended with the storyteller giving out a frightening scream just as the story came to a close – that thrill seems missing from modern horror but The Last Horror Movie is the closest I have seen in a while to draw a little bit of that out of me.
I know in time my thoughts will likely change on The Last Horror Movie and I’ll probably lighten up a bit on some of the contrived philosophical ramblings (hey, if I can show some forgiveness for the heavy handed “message” at the end of Cannibal Ferox which is 1000X worse…) but as it stands now I’m giving the film a three out of five. Although I did like it and feel it’s worth checking out; there was just stoo much standing in the way of my really being able to get into it and be absorbed. However, this opinion isn’t the popular one – so I do highly recommend audiences at least give it a rent. It’s one of the more forward thinking (by channeling films from the past no doubt!) modern horror flicks I have seen in a while.