Friday, June 3, 2022

#2,763. The Last Matinee (2020) - 2021 Horror Movies


Intended as an homage to both Italian Giallo films and the American Slasher subgenre, director Maxi Contenti’s The Last Matinee is, first and foremost, a love letter to the cinema.

It’s 1993, and a small theater in Monetvideo, Uruguay, is screening a low-budget horror film. Convinced that her father, the theater’s projectionist, is working himself too hard, Ana (Luciana Grasso) agrees to fill in for him, but what neither she nor the handful of patrons in attendance that evening realize is that a killer in black gloves (Ricardo Islas) has also bought a ticket, and is waiting for the perfect moment to turn the dilapidated cinema into a bloodbath.

When discussing his movie The Last Matinee, director Contenti said he wanted “to pay tribute to the movie theater, to the ceremony of going to see a movie in a theater”, and by setting the entire film within the confines of a movie house, he manages to do just that; from the plethora of posters lining the walls of Ana’s projection booth to the popcorn containers and candy wrappers tucked under the seats, you feel as if you’re there, watching the movie in the dark alongside the other patrons.

Of course, once the killer gets down to business, you’ll be damn happy you aren’t there! And for a low-budget film (according to Contenti, the entire budget was around $350,000), the gore effects are damn impressive! One young couple, who only just hooked up, meet a particularly gruesome end, and the killer’s penchant for removing his victim’s eyeballs results in what is arguably the film’s grossest reveal. Those who like their giallos / slashers soaked in blood will certainly get a kick out of The Last Matinee, especially a late scene in which the entire theater is tinted red!

And in what was my favorite bit of casting in the entire film, Ricardo Isles, who plays the killer, is himself a Uruguayan filmmaker, and the guy who directed the movie that’s screening when all hell breaks loose (Frankenstein: Day of the Beast)!

South America has been responsible for some of my favorite horror films of the last five years. Both 2017’s Terrified and 2018’s The Nightshifter were my top horror movies the years they were released here in the states (2018 and 2019, respectively), and I am also a big fan of the werewolf / musical Good Manners. A joint production between Uruguay and Argentina, The Last Matinee is another fine addition to this already impressive list, and if you’re a fan of horror or even just movies in general, this is a film you won’t want to miss!
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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