Don’t let the cover art of this Anchor Bay release full you. Despite looking like a bit of a low-rent horror film, this one actually comes across as a fairly damn enjoyable ghost story. It promotes itself as Assault on Precinct 13, the classic John Carpenter film, but with a supernatural twist.
Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) is a rookie cop, following in her late father’s footsteps, despite her mother’s misgivings about it. Her first shift though, may be the toughest one she has every faced. Her assignment is to cover the last shift of a closing police station. Easy enough, unless there is something terribly wrong…
And, of course, we wouldn’t have much of a film if things did go well.
In this particular station, the station where her father worked, served and died, a cult leader, John Michael Paymon (Joshua Mikel) and two of his most devout followers killed themselves one year ago. And they have been here ever since.
As the night progresses she is confronted by increasingly eerie events, doors opening, cabinets moving, strange phone calls, unusual sounds, and strange beings with bloody and scarred faces. But are they real or is she spiraling into madness.
This ended up being a pretty damned enjoyable film, with Harkavy front and center for the entire film, and more than able to carry it. The pacing, style and scares work just right for the film, the stark coldness of the cleared out station serving as a perfect and unnerving companion piece for all the terrible and bloody things playing out within its walls.
The film itself doesn’t play up jump scares, instead it builds quickly into a spooky ghost story, allowing moments to play out before going in for a truly frightening scare. The sequence featuring a fellow officer, is point in case.
As things continue to play out for Officer Loren, she is hunted, haunted, and scared out of her wits through the course of the night, and her loyalty to not only her job, but her father’s memory keeps her on assignment.
DiBlasi, who not only served as director but also co-wrote it with Scott Poley, has created a sooky little ghost story of a film that I truly enjoyed. Maybe I’m just in the right frame of mind right now, what with all the Toronto After Dark titles I’m watching, but this one, I think, plays incredibly well, and is wonderfully spooky.
Harkavy is very competent in her role, which is good, as she is in practically every shot of the film, she has to be a strong and reliable performer, otherwise nothing else that we see, or what happens in the film will matter. And it does matter.
It races to its conclusion, with the imagery and confrontations becoming stronger and more frightening until the ending becomes practically inescapable.
So, take a look at it, ignore the cover, I think something a little more akin to a poster focusing on Loren with the station of the backdrop may have done more to convey the spookiness.
Last Shift starts its patrol on DVD today from Anchor Bay.