Sommerleigh Pollonais, Horror Head Writer
Plot: It’s a soaking wet day with rain pouring down and one of the best things to do is to go seek refuge in a great old cinema. There’s just one problem—a murderer is on the loose and he also has taken refuge there.
Review: It’s a love letter not just to Italian giallo but to retro horror and I’m all for it! The Last Matinee (also known as Red Screening or Al Morir la Matinee) is a Spanish-language horror movie directed by Maximiliano Contenti, who also wrote the screenplay along with Manuel Facal. The faces and names of the actors might not be familiar to Western audiences but the premise is a straightforward one. We have an old cinema, the kind that doesn’t really draw crowds anymore and is run by just a handful of employees. As it pours rain outside, a few people decide to pass the time watching an old horror movie called Frankenstein: Day of the Beast. But what they don’t realise is there’s a killer among them and he’s gone completely meta as he starts taking out the audience one my one.
I was absolutely floored by the beautifully haunting visuals of The Last Matinee. From the very opening you could instantly tell Contenti is a lover of horror movies, specifically giallo films made famous by directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. The poster for this movie alone had me thinking of Suspiria and the cinema setting will have any horror fan worth their salt thinking back to Mario’s son Lamberto Bava’s Demons (Argento also helped write the screenplay). The kills were artistic and lingered in ways that will make you squirm and scream with delight and as someone who loves practical effects over computer generated ones I wasn’t disappointed.
Another point to the film is in its choice of victims. Most horror movies of the past would make it pretty clear who was going to make it to the end and to a point the same can be said here, but there were kills I honestly didn’t see coming and that shock kept me invested in a way most slasher films wouldn’t. The best movies are unpredictable so I have to give props for the way Contenti and Facal kept me on my toes.
There were also moments where the movie being shown on-screen would parallel what was happening in the cinema. Art imitating life, if you will. I don’t think there’s any kind of message being conveyed here though. It’s just these cool little nods that really elevate The Last Matinee in fun ways. Sadly though, it’s far from perfect as there is little to no character development (these people are just here to bite the big one) and we’re never really given a motive for why the killer is doing his thing. It’s not that I need one but the best, most iconic killers have become just that because they have these interesting origin stories. This guy is just nuts!
Fun fact: The killer is played by Ricardo Islas, the real life director of the movie being shown in the cinema, Frankenstein: Day of the Beast, which is also a real movie that came out in 2011. So maybe he was pissed these people weren’t giving his work the respect it deserved as they talked, kissed and…ahem got handies while his movie played. It’s as good a reason as any. Hell, I know a few annoying cinema patrons I’ve wanted to skewer in my time.
The Last Matinee may not be an instant classic but it definitely shows love for the films that inspired it. Director Max Contenti’s work behind the lens is nothing short of breathtaking and I am absolutely on board for any of this future endeavours. So if you’re a fan of the classic Italian/Spanish horror films of the 70s and 80s, The Last Matinee is sure to bring a blood-filled smile to your face.
Sommer’s Score: 6.5 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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