by Coop Cooper
A rookie cop (Juliana Harkavy) begins her first night on the job alone at an abandoned precinct which is scheduled to be decommissioned in the morning. Over the course of the night, she witnesses disturbing apparitions and learns that a Manson Family-like cult committed suicide in the holding cells. As the aggressive ghosts terrorize her, she struggles to hold onto her grip on reality and a story unfolds that connects her father, a deceased veteran cop, to her current predicament.
This film holds some extremely effective and unexpected moments of fright. When the ghosts begin their campaign of terror, they don’t let up often and even when they do, they catch you off guard as they bend reality to play cruel tricks with the protagonist and the audience. One of the most chilling moments happens when a friendly new character is introduced who breaks the onslaught of tension for a few minutes, only to cause the tension to return tenfold when he turns to walk away.
Think of “Last Shift” as “The Haunting of Hell House” in an “Assault on Precinct 13” setting. The pacing is surprisingly quick for a one-location film and the scares are top-notch, even if it does lead to a predicable ending. “Last Shift” is now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and iTunes.
3 and ½ out of 5
WE ARE STILL HERE
A couple (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) grieving the loss of their adult son buys a country home in an isolated town in New England. Unfortunately the house is cursed and they are beset upon by vengeful ghosts who require a sacrifice or else they will unleash a plague of death upon the town. When the sacrifice doesn’t happen fast enough for the frightened locals, they lay siege to the house, trapping the couple inside with the ghosts whose motives aren’t as simple as everyone thinks.
The charred, white-eyed ghosts in this film are terrifying, but the veteran TV actor Monte Markham steals the movie as the affable town patriarch who will do horrible things to keep the ghosts from destroying his hamlet. The tone of the film benefits from the retro-styled visuals which harken back to moody horror pieces from the 70’s and 80’s.
Once again, a familiar concept is made fresh by above-average filmmaking, acting, special effects and a few creepy twists. 80’s ‘scream queen’ Crampton proves her best days of acting are ahead of her and writer/director Ted Geoghegan emerges as a talent to watch. “We Are Still Here” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray and available to rent digitally on Amazon.
3 and ½ out of 5
TALES OF HALLOWEEN
Wow, what a disappointment. Eleven up-and-coming horror directors present this shoddy Halloween anthology film that looks like it was put together at the last minute and shot on cell phone cameras. I love anthology horror films, but they have long gone out of style and even recent, near-perfect ones like “Trick r’ Treat” (2007) prove that a great film doesn’t always equal a successful one in the eyes of Hollywood.
This particular one is a cut below and doesn’t deserve the time of true horror fans anymore than it does casual viewers, no matter how many familiar faces it throws into the cast. It’s disappointing when promising new horror directors like Neil Marshall (“The Descent”), Lucky McKee (“The Woods”) and Paul Solet (“Grace”) get roped into lending their talents to such mediocre efforts.
I should have known better when I saw the very overrated Darren Lynn Bousman (“Repo! The Genetic Opera”) and the abysmal Adam Gierasch (“Night of the Demons” remake) on the list of directors. Avoid this at all costs, but if you must, it is available on Vimeo On Demand.
1 out of 5