The Last Horror Movie
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Julian Richards
scr James Handel
with Kevin Howarth, Mark Stevenson, Antonia Beamish, Christabel Muir, Jim Bywater, Rita Davies, Jonathan Coote, Joe Morley, Jamie Langthorne, John Berlyne, Mandy Gordon, Chris Adamson
release UK 13.May.05
04/UK 1h20

Feels like the first time: Howarth and Paul Conway

howarth what we thought we'd be watching...

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The Last Horror Movie American Psycho goes all Blair Witch on us in this imaginative, micro-budget British thriller. It's a great idea, even if it's far too smug for its own good. It's also clearly designed to be watched at home; seeing it in the cinema is good fun, but the main gimmick is defused.

We're watching a video diary that's been recorded over the movie we've just rented. The subject is Max (Howarth), a psychotic serial killer without a conscience who gleefully murders people on camera, documenting it with the help of his shy assistant (Stevenson). He loves the fact that his girlfriend (Beamish), sister (Muir) and other friends and family members haven't a clue what he's up to. But we watch him go through a mind-boggling sequence of murders, interspersed with his straight-to-camera gloating.

The most clever achievement here is to make us feel like Max is talking directly to us. This keeps us unsettled right from the beginning, and Howarth's gonzo, wild-eyed performance convinces us immediately that all is not right with this man! (He even looks like Christian Bale in American Psycho.) This constant scene-chewing is annoyingly self-satisfied, which makes sure we never like Max at all. But it also makes the film feel a bit corny and repetitive, emphasising the cheap video production to such an extent that, like The Blair Witch Project, a short film feels very long indeed. That said, it's consistently creepy and disturbing, full of horrific long takes that make us flinch away from the screen as the filmmakers ingeniously play on our worst fears. The victims are so believable we want to cry out when they're sadistically stabbed, clubbed, strangled ... or whatever awful fate Max has in store. The combination of smirking cruelty and incessant grisliness is very hard to watch, as is the fact that most of Max's victims are helpless women. But as a scary film, it shows an inventiveness as well as a true nasty streak that most horror movies only dream of.

cert 18 strong themes, violence, language 30.Apr.04

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Last Horror Movie Arzu Taxim, Istanbul: 4/5 "I saw this in Madrid. It takes you places you really don't want to go. Terrifying, but amusing at the same time in a dark twisted kind of way. Lead actor is incredible!" (7.May.04)
2004 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall