Review: LAST SHIFT

lastshiftLAST SHIFT is a legitimately scary movie. One of the few movies where it is a character’s actual responsibility to investigate the strange noise coming from a dark room. This is one of the few movies where it is a character’s responsibilty to remain exactly where she is at, despite any strange occurences. This is low budget filmmaking where it works to the filmmaker’s benefit.

It surrounds Officer Loren, a rookie cop assigned to watch over the last night of a closing police station with a deadly history. What Officer Loren may or may not know is that a Manson like cult committed suicide in the police station while detained a year prior and their spirits may not have never left. Strange calls start coming in despite being notified that all 911 calls have been transferred to a different station. A homeless man stumbles into the station, urinates in the lobby and makes himself at home during Officer Loren’s shift.

LAST SHIFT helps define psychological horror, utilizing our protagonist’s past and current emotional state in effective ways that create a sense of dread and uncertainty. It helps that we are forced to follow her as she inspects dark rooms and long hallways for the entire duration, sometimes never seeing anything, then, when you least expect it, a sudden surprise might pop up. It is great at building suspense, growing anxiety in both Officer Loren and the audience. I am not one who easily affected by jump scares, but LAST SHIFT legitimately made me jerk a couple times. This is probably due to the fact that the movie is patient and doesn’t dive in quickly into gimmicks and special effects like most blockbuster horror movies.

Isolated our primary character sets the tone for the majority of the film and is what most haunted house like movies are missing. CGI and good looking teens do not constitute any feelings of being threatened. They might pass the time for 90 minutes, but don’t leave you wanting to leave the light on at night. There are special effects here, but only when necessary and play an essential part in telling the story of the longest shift any employee has ever endured. Juliana Harkavy is excellent as Officer Loren, more than believable and exudes the sympathy necessary for a lead who is forced to carry the movie all on her own. She isn’t just a final girl, she’s the only girl and doesn’t need an ensemble cast to help color in the lines. A strong performance is sometimes all a movie needs and she sometimes creates the tension all by herself without anything necessarily having to pop onto the screen.

Even if LAST SHIFT isn’t your thing or don’t get off on a haunted house like scenario, this is something to pop in on a Friday night to get some great scares before bed.  There are some blink and you miss it shots, resulting in some “did you see that?” moments. It’s rare to see a movie that actually keeps you on edge, but I greatly welcome it and hope this is one of those movies that ends up finding its fanbase over time.