For many 80s horror icons late career longevity can often lead to a stale purgatory of glorified typecast cameos. Case in point, Adam Green’s Hatchet (2006)– with the sheer appearance of Kane Hodder, Tony Todd and Robert Englund being a simple process of rolling out the genre relics for the sole purpose of ‘spot the dinosaur’. However director Phil Hawkin’s juicy script for The Last Showing, managed to put ‘Freddy’ to bed in more ways than one, attracting Robert Englund to a lead role that was absolutely perfect for him. Focusing upon a tired and undervalued cinema projectionist with a performance channeling Robin Williams (One Hour Photo) and Tobin Bell (Saw) , Hawkins The Last Showing is a Brian de Palma esque thriller chronicling the plight of a hapless couple at a midnight screening of The Hills Have Eyes 2 (1985) being unwillingly ‘cast’ in Englund’s amateur horror movie.
Shot entirely in an empty Vue Cinema with Game of Thrones Finn Jones and Emily Berrington as the leads the film basically revolves around Englund sitting in his control center, pulling the strings, manipulating the escalators and projecting ominous commands upon widescreen via rudimentary power point presentations. The result is a cat and mouse dynamic as characters are involved in staged murders, accusations of date rape and lethal police intervention while Englund’s performance channels a cine –literate Vincent Price ; spouting monologues on the state of modern horror and scripting his movie with a series of post it notes which he gleefully ticks as the plot progresses. While the film is incredibly stylish for a low budget British movie, with the use of crane shots making impressive visual use of the cinema space, the performances of the leads Jones and Berrington are a little wooden at times, possibly due to the stunted dialogue and at times slightly unbelievable set – up. As expected Englund’s character carries the entire film, with a character who is physically unintimidating but plays his horror cards via guile and the sinister smiles of the voyeuristic ‘everyman’. Unfortunately this is not exactly enough to save the film as a whole, which functions as a relatively unremarkable addition to the horror genre.
Despite its pulpy premise and sly humor The Last Showing was a relatively bland realization of a concept that had great potential, lacking the shock – jolt value to make the whole premise really come alive on screen. While it is enjoyable to see Englund playing a ‘character’ rather than a glorified cameo / grindhouse cliché, his involvement in the project was undoubtedly the determining factor that has shot this straight to DVD film to the festival circuit. While I tried my upmost to get invested in The Last Showing, it was a unanimously camp, woefully performed flick that was full of fun and frolics rather than scares. The horror equivalent of Vue Cinemas nachos if you like. Pre -packaged, devoid of substance and leaving a state taste in the mouth. Phil Hawkins on the other hand is a top bloke. Check out my interview here
Director: Phil Hawkins
Cast: Robert Englund, Finn Jones, Emily Berrington, Keith Allen, Chris Geere
Runtime: 85 mins