A Cult Following
by Brody Rossiter
Jessica Loren is a cop tasked with watching over a rundown police station throughout its final night of operation. An uneventful evening spent waiting for a HAZMAT team to remove the last remnants of evidence stowed away in the station’s archives awaits the unimpressed rookie. All alone, and with little to occupy her mind, Jessica falls asleep. When she awakens, things start to go bump in the night, and slowly the young woman begins to uncover a hidden chronicle of the station’s harrowing past.
Directed by Anthony DiBlasi, a director and producer who is becoming increasingly synonymous with the horror genre, and starring The Walking Dead’s Juliana Harkavy, the supernatural chiller is a deliriously good example of how talent both on and off-screen can allow the viewer to disregard budgetary restraints and fall headfirst into a plot of mystery, murder and pure, inescapable fear.
After a series of deeply unsettling phone calls, a tussle with a vagrant and a chain of inexplicable visions, Jessica begins to uncover disturbing truths about a Manson Family-esque cult, their rampage through the local area and their link to her police chief father’s death. The horrors grow in ferocity, and thanks to some brilliant sound design and extraordinarily moody lighting, the scares hit hard and fast. There’s little breathing room between such startling set-pieces, yet exposition freely flows, allowing us to feel for Jessica while also feeling every ounce of her terror.
The revelations are far too pivotal to the plot to reveal, however, their bloody crawl out of the darkness, is a horror fans dream, or nightmare – whatever floats your boat. The movie is one of the finest independent horrors out there due to its technical panache and depraved atmospherics. Modern, yet also not afraid bear the influences of classic horror movies and video games (Silent Hill & Resident Evil vibes echo through the grim station), The Last Shift is fills its negative space with creeping death and plants its engaging characters deep in your psyche. A night in this station is truly unforgettable.