The Last Horror Movie review by The Grim Ringler
Its been a strange fifteen years in the horror genre. After a decade spent obsessing over masked murderers stalking teens and all of that. And while there are some good movies in that sub-genre, any time you start following a trend, in any film genre are going to water down the product and up sprout the wanna-bes. Enter the meta-movie, or the movie that makes fun of the very thing it is or the thing its inspired by. The captain of this team is naturally Scream, a movie and series that deserves better than the rolling eyes that it gets, but thats beside the point. What that movie did though was up the ante and made it cool to acknowledge that -hey, this is a horror movie, and arent horror movies funny and predicable? Which, ironically, became predictable. And then came reality television and a little movie called Man Bites Dog, which was a serial thriller, about a serial thriller, making his own film. Enter The Last Horror Movie.
Its shame that I even have to tell you about this film because frankly, for the film to have any real effect, the less known the better. Sadly, the filmmakers have pretty much given the trick of the tale away with the packaging, though I am sure they had no choice. In an ideal world, they might have been able to release the film as it looks like a teen slasher, and then WHAMMO, the real movie starts. Butnot so much.
The film begins with the opening of another slasher on the loose film, this one recently escaped from a mental institution and on the prowl on Halloween. A clever premise for a satirical nod at the genre, but perhaps one thats been done one time too many, but it works. But just as the first victim is about to find herself out back on lifes unemployment line, the film cuts out, the screen fuzzes, and when the picture comes back, we get to meet Max, a serial killer who has decided to make his own film. Taking a cue from the films title (the notion here is that Max rented LHM and taped over the video with his own film and then returned it to the store for the publics consumption), Max has decided it was time for the world to finally see what he feels is the last word in horror. The real horror of death and murder. With the help of a cameraman that becomes more and more involved in the murders, Max takes us on a tour of his life and his murders, daring the viewer to continue to watch him, and asking all the while if he is bad for doing what he does, what are we for watching?
The biggest gripe I have here is that its too damned much like Man Bites Dog. You can pick a far worse film to emulate, but man, its a bummer to pattern your movie so closely to it. Yes, the movie is gory, yes there are moments that jar you and get to you, and the acting is stellar, but what really impressed me is the message. More heavy handed than MBD, this is still a film with a lot to say about the nature of voyeurism. A lot of us know people, or are people, who go to real gore sites, who watch the true death videos, and are fascinated by the darker sides of death, and this film asks when does curiosity turn to complicity? Max is a loser, there is no escaping that though the character tries to hide the fact but he is obviously educated, well spoken, and wants badly for his victims to understand why he is doing what hes doing.
The film works because it is upsetting watching people die, but by this time, I mean, I have seen enough of these movies to be a bit jaded, so for the hardened horror fan, this will seem pedestrian. I think the filmmakers might have taken a page from Henry and their filmed execution to add more true horror into this film, but its hard when there is a videographer accompanying the killer. It does get hard to believe though that the man that Max hires to help him would have stayed with him so long. It might have been interesting if there had been a string of accomplices, as each one loses their nerve along the way. The end, is pretty damned cheesy, and ruins a bit of the momentum. A film like this, it doesnt work if you push too hard on the boundaries. And they push just a little too hard. But then, thats the problem too with the film in its entirety. Being that the notion is that it was shot on video, and taped onto a rental video, you cant have a theatrical release, and you cant really have a DVD release. I realize that its not really feasible economically, but artistically it would have been HUGE. The idea for this film is a very, very good one, a great what if along the lines of The Ring/Ringu, but its an idea that really has to be pursued balls out. If you want people to believe it, believe its true, then you have to go all the way. Which isnt a fair way to view the film, but thats the premise, that this is a REAL movie. Ideally, they should have taken a page from the Blair Witch Project and acted as if the film was real. Created a false controversy. Released it as if it was unknown whether it was real or not. Show it at midnight showings. Leave it unrated. And keep people guessing. And then release it on video as it iswith extra footagebut not for sale. Then you release the special edition that tells it like it is and breaks the bubble. Can it work? Maybe not, but thats the way you have to do a film like this.
The film is in mono, which fits, and the image is as clean as video can be. The extras are decent considering its not a big film, and fans of it should be pleased with what they get.
All told, its an interesting film. The actor portraying Max is brilliant, and nails the character perfectly. I wish the film were more shocking, as that was the intent, but its worth a view just the same. A well made, interesting film that raises some very good questions about murder and the voyeuristic notions of people, but sadly the film just doesnt make an emotional impact. Well worth a rental. My guess is that the people involved will have very successful careers as there is some strong talent here.
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