Written by: Matt Patti | August 23rd, 2021
The Last Matinee (Maximiliano Contenti, 2020) 3 out of 4 stars.
Watching a film in the cinemas has always been special to me. The large screen, total darkness and booming sound system deliver an experience that one simply cannot replicate at home. However, it almost seems as if this medium is becoming a luxury and rarity these days for some people, with so many people opting to view films at home on demand rather than making it out to the theater. COVID-19, of course, has had a large impact on this, but some folks just feel safer and more at ease in the comfort of their homes. I must admit that even I—someone who adores going to theaters—tend to ponder once or twice during a cinema-going experience how I would escape if danger were to present itself.
Director Maximiliano Contenti (Neptunia) plays on these fears in his slasher film, The Last Matinee. The film takes place on a rainy day inside a cinema in Montevideo, Uruguay. The uncrowded theater screens a horror film with only nine people in attendance. The projectionist is an old man who is tired and exhausted, but when no relief arrives, his daughter, Ana (Luciana Grasso), takes over, having watched him from a young age and knowing how to perform his duties. The audience is made up of various people of different ages and walks of life, all not very pleased with the sub-par horror film they are viewing. Not to worry, though, as they are all about to experience something far more terrifying than what’s on screen: a serial killer is with them, using the darkness to his advantage and sneakily murdering those inside, taking his time. Will anyone notice the true horror that’s happening inside the theater before the film’s—and potentially their lives’—end?
The Last Matinee is a creative, impressive ode to slasher films that have come before it. It features much of the same feel of dramatic, classic horror flicks while also creating its own signature. The film features well-orchestrated sound design reminiscent of those older films but with top-notch modern-day cinematography. It presents noteworthy visuals and effects, specifically disturbing imagery, and creative ways that the killer mutilates his victims that churn even my—a horror veteran’s—stomach. The editing, also, is very well done and timed perfectly, as many kills happen when something similar is showing on the theater’s screen, and the cuts back and forth are seamless.
The real charm of this film, though comes from its diversity of characters. The audience within the movie contains three drunken teens, a man on a date, a few older men, a mysterious young woman who is there alone, and a brave little boy who snuck into the screening. We get to spend ample time with each character and get to know their individual situations. The three teens critique the film that they’re watching, the man on the date sees that it is not going as well as he’d have imagined, the boy realizes the film is scarier than he thought it would be, and one of the older men only wishes that everyone would just shut up! The wide range of characters and scenarios amongst them keep the viewer intrigued and the film fresh, even before the killer stars doing his dirty deeds.
The Last Matinee is an overall very fun, creepy, and engaging exploration of what would take place if a serial killer made his way inside a movie theater. The film is a little slow to start and it takes a while before anything really happens, but the characters are enough to keep the audience invested. The ending is the weakest part of the film, for sure; not that it is of poor quality, but simply that it is unremarkable and drags on for a bit too long, and as the number of characters decrease, the film naturally gets a bit less compelling. However, The Last Matinee is still a satisfying modern-day slasher film with a very creative concept, and I believe that many viewers who experience this might keep one eye over their shoulder the next time they go to see a film at the cinema.