LAST SHIFT (2014)
Directed by Anthony DiBlasi
Rookie cop Jessica Loren starts her first shift at an old police station that is going through a transition to a newly opened station down the road. With all calls rerouted to the new building, Jessica has little to do except to wait for a hazmet crew to dispose of some of the old evidence waste (needles, soiled clothing) stored there. However, Jessica’s shift proves anything but quiet when she begins to hear and see strange things around the station and discovers some truths about a mass murder case that were better left unknown.
Cassadaga director Anthony DiBlasi is back with spooky, supernatural thriller LAST SHIFT. Focusing on a lone female officer, who’s father died serving in the force, the film documents one night’s shift at an abandoned police station and it couldn’t get any more unnerving or isolated as this. With only a telephone and a homeless guy for company, Jessica is pretty much thrown into the deep end. It’s just as well that all she needs to do is serve as a security guard in the old station until the forensic clean-up crew arrive. What she doesn’t realise is that the station once played host to a trio of Manson family-style murderers and their wicked spirits still seem to haunt the hallways and rooms of the outdated cop shop.
You could think of LAST SHIFT as a haunted house horror and you wouldn’t be wrong. Trade the house for a police station and you have the perfect setting for weird shit to go down. When the film first started, it reminded me of Brian O’Malley’s Let Us Prey that shares the rookie cop on nightmare first shift theme but after that, all similarities end there. There may be jump scares aplenty in this disowned station but the nightmarish visions conjured up are more than just that. The bloodied faces and bone-cracking disfigured spectres are genuinely frightening as they stalk our protagonist and you get a sense of the menace underlining their presence. The backstory of what really went on with the Paymon family murders is chilling enough and things only intensify when it appears their work is still being continued to this day as Jessica receives distressed phone calls from a young woman in danger.
Juliana Harkavy portrays the nervous young rookie officer Jessica incredibly well with an upbeat persona and love for the job that her father gave his life for. Even when she begins to hear bumps and voices in the darkness, she still manages to hold it together even if she has to recite her oath to serving justice and protecting people to herself to give her a boost of confidence. It takes a lot to shake this rookie, a lot more than what I could withstand I can tell ya! However, there’s only so much one can take before the cracks appear and unfortunately for Jessica she must struggle through if she’s to keep her job and make her late father proud.
The isolated aspect of LAST SHIFT and the magnificent performance by Harkavy is what kept me glued to the screen throughout the 85 minute running time. The sound effects compliment the scenes nicely and sent chills down this reviewer’s spine. The finale might not have been a big surprise and has been done before in many other horror movies but the film as a whole has quite a menacing charm to it that it’s hard to dislike.
Incredibly tense and disturbingly creepy, LAST SHIFT is well worth checking out.