“The Last Matinee”: An ‘Eye-Popping’ Slow Burn Slasher: Film Review

There have been countless horror films released in theaters over the past decade, but The Last Matinee is the first feature of recent memory to use the cineplex as the setting for horrific haunts. An auditorium shrouded in a darkness that is only pierced by the illumination of an old projector works so incredibly well for this horror film that it’s shocking that more filmmakers haven’t used the environment.

The Last Matinee takes place during a torrential rainfall, where society’s most lonely gather to escape the gloomy weather. However, from the dim projection of an offshoot Frankenstein flick, this bored audience will soon receive a killer awakening from a masked vagrant.

Director Maximiliano Contenti takes his time easing viewers into this murderous world that has more hues of red and blue than a old timey 3D film. Like the awkward first date depicted on screen, The Last Matinee takes far too long to make a thrilling move. However, once it does, the film’s pace course corrects, setting the stage for a captivating third act.

Director Maximiliano Contenti also makes sure to include every archetype of the moviegoing public in the classic cinema hall, from the grumpy old man, to rowdy teenagers, to a very handsy couple and more. Considering that the archetypes have such a strong negative connotation to them, it makes the slasher elements of The Last Matinee somewhat rewarding; those who “don’t take cinema seriously” finally get their comeuppance.

While The Last Matinee never attempts to be prestigious like the glut of contemporary Hollywood arthouse horror, Contenti does seem to tackle the debate centering around moviegoers’ behavior in a movie theater. Every slaughter seems to vindicate theatrical purists, until the eventual realization of just how damaging it is to take away someone’s ability to see art, no matter how much they “deserved it”. It’s this exploration of cineplex audiences that makes The Last Matinee a giallo slasher film worth watching.

The Silver Lining

The opening sequence of The Last Matinee is by far the strongest aspect of the film. The arial shots of the killer’s car as it traverses through the city is a metropolitan homage to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Hernán González’s foreboding score that accompanies these ominous shots feels as though he put Wendy Carlos & Rachel Elkind’s work on The Shining through a synthesizer. All together, Contenti crafts one of the strongest brief homages to Kubrick in recent memory.

The Last Matinee is available to stream on Arrow on December 1st.

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