Last Shift full movie review - I respect what they were trying to do.
When newcomer officer; Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) takes her first night shift in her police station, she ? along with the audience ? notices an immediate that there is something wrong with her new post in the station.
After her discomforting commanding officer; Sgt. Cohen (Hank Stone) leaves, strange occurrences begin to unfold as the night gradually progresses, leading to a moderately discomforting venture for both the lead and audiences alike.
Harkavy is a convincing young actress who I would be happy to see get more work in the business. She carries the weight of this film on her back and we grow to genuinely fear for her safety, as we learn more and more about his backstory and her motivations as to why she seems so determined to stay and complete her shift, rather than taking the more sensible option and leave the station to safety. The supporting characters however certainly leave something to be desired. While one likable side character does appear around half way through the movie (this being Officer Price, played by Matt Doman), he does not stay for long and really only serves to add a little more depth to Loren's history. He does nothing to further the plot or in any other movie, doesn't even stay long enough to leave a lasting effect on the audience. The only reason he is as memorable as he is, is because all the other characters are bland shells that only slightly resembles humanity.
Other characters include a drunk homeless man who breaks into the station, however he serves no purpose aside from being a prop for the director to cause jump scares and be a play thing for the paranormal entities ? which in turn, frighten Officer Loren. Sgt. Cohan is an unnecessarily disturbing old cop who first introduces himself to with a very peculiar attempt at a jump scare. He yells at Loren when he first sees her and creates much tension in the scene that follows. His character is never expanded upon and is just presented as an unlikable, rage-filled man. I believe the intended effect is to show how this station has left a haunting effect on its residents, however it is never shown in a manner that we can relate to. She doesn't seem like a tortured soul, just like a child with anger management issues.
There are a few other characters throughout the narrative, such as a prostitute, a group of young female cultists and a serial killer (played by Joshua Mikel), however none of them are particularly noteworthy. However despite the abysmal character writing, there were many other aspects of the film making that truly reaches above and beyond my expectations. The while the narrative, falls into the many typical tropes of the genre. the movie shies away from using the musical score build suspense or add sharp, loud sound effects to the jump scares and instead chooses to allow the scenes to play out how they would in reality ? allowing the intensity of certain scenes to grow entirely through the eerie silences and echoing sounds that rattle through the 'empty' halls of the police station.
The cinematography is also impressively done in a way, not typically seen in the Supernatural/Horror genre. There is an extended shot within the last ten minutes of the film that lasts for an exceptionally long time during an action filled shoot out in the station. This is intended to give the impression of a documentary style police raid with the camera staying consistently within a mid-shot of Harkavy's back in the left? of the screen while the action is shown from a perspective likewise to her own. As a result, whenever the opposing gunmen turn to face Harkavy, they are also looking at the viewer, adding to a certain amount of audience immersion. By this point in the film, because we are rooting for Officer Loren to survive this onslaught, the fact that the film maker's made this choice shows that they have a strong awareness of which aspects of the film matters more than others. We connect to our lead in a way that allows this last few minutes to feel whole-heartedly immersed in the events. However, despite my respect for this prolonged scene, it leads to an ultimately abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion that leaves a lot to be desired. Without giving anything away, it ends in a manner that not only doesn't tie into what the narrative was leading you to believe (yet it doesn't have a plot twist), but also isn't conclusive in any particular arcs. They say that the ending can either make or break a story and here it certainly does apply. While the movie does have other problem, had it ended in a way that made a little more sense narratively, I would be a little more forgiving of these issues. However as it stands, my feelings of Last Shift are incredibly mixed. Director Anthony DiBlasi also Wrote and Edited this film and I can see he is a talented film maker, and I hope he gets more work in the action oriented side of film making, however, as a writer he has a lot to improve upon.