Monday, October 11, 2021

31 Days of Halloween 2021 Day 11: The Last Matinee Grabs Viewers by the Eyeballs

[Once again I'm going to attempt to do a horror(ish) movie review a day for the entire month of October. Might throw in the odd horror related book, comic, or music review as well. I've done this the last few years here and on The Cleveland Movie Blog. Most of the time I succeeded. Other times I didn't. Last year I completely failed and didn't do it at all. I'm optimistic about this year.]


The distinctive Italian horror/murder mystery hybrid known as the Giallo film has always been more about style than logical storytelling. Director Maximiliano Contenti and his screenwriting partner Manuel Facal definitely get that part right. Their film, like the ones that inspired it, is a glossy, brightly colored bauble in which barely defined characters get offed in gleefully gory set pieces by a black-gloved killer with half-baked motivations. 


And let's not forget the eye violence that Italian horror films seem to revel in. Man is there some nasty eye violence in this one.


When you have a master of the genre like Dario Argento, Mario Bava, or even Sergio Martino behind the camera, the formula usually works. But while Contenti certainly has the filmmaking chops, his efforts never rise above the level of pastiche here. THE LAST MATINEE looks great and delivers the cleverly staged gory mayhem fans expect from the genre, and I have no question that this film came from a place of love. For me, though, the results were just so-so.


Even for a giallo, the plot is pretty thin and idiotic. Contenti just wants to get to the stylish shocks. And if you’re of the same mind, you’ll probably be perfectly happy with the movie. I guess I was just hoping for something more.


My lukewarm feelings for THE LAST MATINEE aside, Contenti is a director I’ll be watching. With a better script, I’m guessing he could deliver a first-rate horror flick. 2 ½ out of 4 stars.

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