Last Horror Movie, The (2003)
Reviewed by Johnny Butane
Starring Kevin (Razor Blade Smile) Howarth, Mark Stevenson, Antonia (Dead Creatures) Beamish, Jim (The Accidental Death of the Anarchist) Bywater
Directed by Julian Richards
You have to admit, that's a pretty bold title. The first thing I thought of when I heard it was "wow, that's a bit presumptuous". After finding out what it was about, it seemed slightly less egotistical, but upon viewing it I know exactly why this is called The Last Horror Movie, and it has to do with the rather cheesy ending that I won't give away.
The film starts off with a girl, alone in a diner late at night. In the background you can see a car pull into the lot while she's on the phone with someone we perceive to be her son. Over the title credits is an announcement of an escaped serial killer that is now on the loose very close to our heroine's location, so we know no good can come of this.
She leans down to mop, and behind her we see a psycho ready to cleave her head and then...static. And the face of Max, a serial killer who's decided that the best way to show the world how truly great he is as a human being, how different he is and how so much the same the rest of us are, is to videotape his crimes. He's hired an assistant to follow him around with a camera as he waxes poetic about life, death, and his family as well as the occasional pointless murder.
I say "pointless" because Max has no real motivation to kill the people he does; he just enjoys the act itself. He is not remorseful or scarred in any way once the deed is done; for him it's no more unusual than one of us doing something we really and truly enjoy for purely selfish reasons. Much like Henry before him, he has no pattern, no specific victims in mind; sometimes he'll just see someone that looks like they should be killed and does it however he wants. This has prevented the cops from linking any of the murders together, let alone lead them back to him as the culprit. The perfect crimes, as it were.
Julian Richards has directed a truly interesting little film here, though I'd be hard-pressed to call it a bona fide "horror" movie. It's got some fairly vicious kills, but nothing like I was expecting considering its comparisons to the vicious classic Man Bites Dog. It's really more of a character study than anything else, a glimpse into the demented mind of a man who is pretty much completely unable to care about human suffering in any real way. At one point he's watching a news program featuring the husband of a woman he recently killed and simply states he does not care about the man's feelings. And if he doesn't care, why should he not do it? Pretty simple, yet chilling, logic.
The character of Max is portrayed excellently by Kevin Howarth, who's almost like a saner version of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho. It can't be easy to carry a film more or less by yourself, especially with the many monologues he has to the camera, but he pulls it off expertly. He plays Max as the kind of guy you'd never expect in your day to day life to be serial killer, especially one as ruthless as he is, and that's really the point of all this.
You may be wondering about the beginning I mentioned earlier. They play this off as Max having rented a movie called The Last Horror Movie and taped over it with his own material. He then will follow people home who rent it (meaning he must spend a lot of time at the video store), wait for them to finished watching it, then get into their house and find out why they watched it all the way through to the end before killing them. What he's trying to do is find out why people will call him a monster for what he's done when they're just as curious about these things as he is. The difference being, of course, that he acts on them and we do not.
While a good idea for a film, the main issue I have with Last Horror Movie is that it really doesn't focus on the killing side of things. You never get the feeling Max is overly cruel with his victims, indeed most of them seem to be killed before they even get a chance to understand what's going on. Too much of the film features Max with his family, a sister and nephews that he adores, which serves to normalize him a bit too much. I mean, how can you go around almost every night killing people at random, then go hang out with your 10-year-old nephew and not have some conflicting emotions?
That's one of the cool thing about the movie, though; it certainly makes you ask yourself some questions, and your opinion of its ideas, be they preachy or logical, might be 180 degrees from mine. It's a movie that makes you think, and that's far too rare nowadays. Even if the end was overtly cheesy.
3 1/2 out of 5
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