Ana (Luciana Grasso) takes over projection duties from her ailing father for a late night showing at the cinema he works at. Expecting a quiet night where she can concentrate on her studies, Ana is unaware that among the cinema’s customers there’s a sadistic killer. With the rain pouring heavily outside, the few people that take refuge in the cinema end up in a fight for their lives as the killer picks them off one by one. Can Ana save the day or will the killer get away?
‘The Last Matinee’ comes from Uruguayan director and writer Maximiliano Contenti, and it’s a loving homage to the Giallo genre. If you’re a fan of the work of Dario Argento, then you’ll get a kick out of what’s on offer here. Set in the 90s, ‘The Last Matinee’ faithfully recreates horror films from that era with retro visuals, Argento-like colourful lighting and some seriously gory kills. Viewers know from the beginning of the film that the killer is inside the cinema and that helps build the tension as a handful of customers seek somewhere to wait out the rain.
With Ana in the projection booth focussing on preparing for an upcoming test, it takes her a while to realise that there’s something wrong in the beautiful old cinema. The cavernous theatre houses the majority of the action with the supporting players spread around the seats a good distance from one another. This allows the killer to move between them undetected and keeps the audience guessing who’s going to be next. There’s a real tension that builds as you get to know the characters, with the expectation that violence and death is merely minutes away for them.
When it comes to the kills, the film doesn’t disappoint. They are very, very gory and creative, and even this hardened horror fan found himself looking away from the screen at times. The sadistic trench-coated killer enjoys taking a trophy from his victims after he’s killed them in horrific ways. Let’s just say if you’re not a fan of ‘eye-popping’ kills, then you might find yourself struggling through some of the scenes here.
Luciana Grasso is superb as the probably final girl Ana. Given that she is the lead character, there’s little doubt that she’ll be the last one standing and Grasso gives her everything to the role. She’s strong, fierce and vulnerable as she tries to help the customers in the cinema escape from the killer, including a young boy who has sneaked in without anyone knowing he’s there. Julieta Spinelli is impressive too as the mouthy teenager Angela who rocks up to the cinema drunk with her two friends.
‘The Last Matinee’ feels like it could fit nicely into the classic Giallo genre and I adored it. Despite a slow start, the film soon ramps up and the tension is relentless. I was on the edge of my seat in the second half and impressed with Contenti’s expert direction. I also enjoyed the nods to other film-makers that could be found throughout the film, including a poster of Argento’s ‘Opera’ in the lobby of the cinema. ‘The Last Matinee’, for me, is the best kind of horror film and it’s a real gem that horror fans should actively seek out.
Cast: Luciana Grasso, Franco Duran, Julieta Spinelli, Ricardo Islas Director: Maximiliano Contenti Writers: Maximiliano Contenti & Manuel Facal Certificate: 18 Duration: 87 mins Released by: Arrow Video Release date: 1st December (streaming on Arrow), 6th December (Blu-ray) Buy ‘The Last Matinee’ on Blu-ray now