Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: LAST SHIFT (2014) [Joe's Take]

The Premise
The premise of Last Shift seems sound at first: a rookie cop must guard an old, creepy police station on its last night, as the police force transitions to a new station. So, a woman with a gun is alone in a creepy place where bad things happened. Throughout 85 minutes or so, those bad things surface and fuck with her. The good news is: it's not rapey at all. So it has that going for it.

The Story Arc
You quickly realize that nothing is as it seems, and the real content of the story arc is figuring out what the fuck is going on, period. There are two problems with this: (1) the officer never actually investigates anything. There are no puzzles, she never pieces anything together, there's no "Ah-Ha! Oooh....shit!" montage; (2) there's never any sense that the officer has a means of winning. There's no anchor for her. The only anchor is a litany that she repeats twice at the beginning of the movie and once at the end. And it's a terrible litany! It's apparently an officer's code, but you can never really hear what she's saying, and what you can hear is along the lines of "I promise to uphold my duty, in accordance with section 4, paragraph 3, that an officer on duty shall act..." 

Short repetitive sentences. They must mean something. They must build! I WILL PREVAIL! But no, the litany doesn't keep her grounded because the movie itself forgets about it for an entire hour. On the flipside, there's also a creepy atonal song that the bad guys sing with vague words like "I will be an angel, unto him, here I go" This is the easy stuff, and the movie manages to fuck it up! Instead of something classic and clear like “one, two, Freddy's coming for you,” we get "mumble . . . ready for heaven upon which so mighty one art good, for things . . . mumble mumble . . . "  So shit just keeps on happening, and she's powerless to deal with it, and it becomes pretty clear that nothing is real, and nothing can be trusted. So, you never know what's going on. You do, however, find out what went on.
The events that transpired a year ago, and which haunt the station, literally play out for her on an actual TV. Creepy hippies based on the Manson clan killed a bunch of girls and two police officers, including the father of the protagonist before hanging themselves in a prison cell. They evidently communed with some kind of all powerful King of Hell, who in his evil almightiness, has no bigger plans than effing with a rookie cop on a Tuesday night.
The main tension in the story arc is trying to figure out what, if anything, is real. However, instead of one big plot twist that recasts everything, there are multiple plot twists. In fact, the movie just keeps on plot twisting until the very last second. And better yet, the biggest plot twist that should reshape everything, only reshapes the previous 8 seconds! Even M. Night Shamalyan would wince.

The Performances
I'm pretty sure these performances were filmed a year ago, and they were so awful that the evil has left an indelible mark that will haunt you. Probably 60% of the scenes in this movie are of the protagonist's face, reacting to shit like all of the locker doors in the locker room opening at once. And she has the facial emotional range of a house cat. She's as interesting as Joe Flacco. Only in the last 15 minutes does she start to cry and freak out. When frankly, after the first 15 minutes of this movie, I would have run screaming out of the police station. What's incredible, too, given the current narrative around police in the media, is that she manages not to fire her gun through an hour of things that would make any sane person empty the entire clip. She's not the worst part though. No, the random white people they got to play the wanna-be Manson family is the worst. It's like they cast out of an L.A. high school drama class. No one looks remotely fucked up, and their lines are delivered way too matter-of-factly for a crazy person, i.e. "I would do anything for him! He's in big with the devil, you know."

Note the menacing office chairs

The Scares
There is one great scene, and I won't spoil it for you, because it is the only moment of The Last Shift worth watching. But let me tell you about the least frightening moment! The officer watches like fifteen minutes of explanation for what happened a year ago on a prison TV. And then gets attacked by a rolling office chair. And the chair wins! But, in winning, I'm pretty sure it only manages to displace one hair.  But that hair stays displaced for the rest of the film. So, point chair.

My Questions for Paul: 

JD:  So, Paul, at what point would you have never, ever gone back in that police station?

PH:  Honestly, I don't think I would have returned just to answer the phone.  I mean, she was OUT.  And then she comes running back in because she doesn't want it to go to voicemail?  Please.  That phone brought her absolutely no good news the whole time.  I mean, even when the hazmat guys called it was only to tell her that they were going to be late. 

JD:  What happened to the bathroom? Was that the devil worshipers? Or was the police station next to an Arby's?

PH:  My first thought was that it was the urinating homeless guy who was apparently squatting in their utility closet.  But then he peed on the floor, which, really, can you blame him after seeing the bathroom?  So now I’m thinking that it was the other cops playing a good old fashioned poo joke on the new recruit.

JD: As a Silent Hill fan, how Silent Hill was this movie?

PH:  Fairly Silent Hill?  I know you take issue with the “you can’t distinguish between reality and fantasy” psychological horror thing, but I dig it when done well.  I also liked how the special effects seemed to rely on old-fashioned makeup and prosthetics rather than CGI, which reminds me of the Silent Hill movie.  Though that one CGI-aided scene where the corpse is being dragged on the ground by something invisible and then it is pulled up and begins to walk?  Terrifying.

JD:  What did you think of the blond woman whom she meets outside?

PH:  You mean the banged-up prostitute who has all the killer info on the haunted police station’s past?  I thought she was. . .convenient.  I also thought that she might ply her trade somewhere a little less suburban park looking, but what do I know?

JD:  What could have made this good?

PH: I thought it was good!  I mean, not top 10 list or anything, but more good than bad.  I guess what could have made it better would have been more character development for the evil office chairs.  Like, how many farts does an office chair have to eat before turning on you?

And that's it for Last Shift.  Next up:  Bound to Vengeance.  Time to make the donuts.

Feel free to ask and answer your own questions below!

And click here to read Paul's take on Last Shift.

No comments:

Post a Comment