DIRECTOR Julian Richards WRITER James Handel; Julian Richards (idea) STARS Kevin Howarth; Mark Stevenson; Antonia Beamish DVD 5 May
The reasoning behind this re-release of Julian Richards’ micro-budgeted 2003 British shocker is obvious when you see the artwork on the new DVD sleeve — the distributors are pushing this as another Paranormal Activity and riding the coat-tails of the cursed ‘found-footage’ genre. Based on that, you’d be excused for giving this one a pass. However, The Last Horror Movie is an interesting experiment that owes more to Man Bites Dog, challenging the intelligence and morals behind the audience’s decision to watch the act of murder, held together with a great central performance from Kevin Howarth.
We start watching a typical 80s slasher flick, as generic as a thousand others, before the screen fuzzes out and Max appears. English, enigmatic, he has a day job as a wedding videographer and a hobby of murder, which he lets us participate in by having a friend follow him around with a camera to capture every sickening detail for the documentary which we are now watching. Max addresses the audience directly, telling us about his background and his thoughts on why what he is doing is acceptable. Holding a gun to the head of a drunk behind a bar, he questions how much a single human life is worth, particularly when the drunk himself admits he has given up on his own. During a double killing of a husband and wife he forces the camera to turn away, and then asks us if we wanted to see that, and if we didn’t, why are we still watching? Max wants us to admit that by viewing his documentary we are actively encouraging his activities. A clever script asks the viewer thought-provoking questions, and this combined with the stark, no-frills camerawork and some very realistic effects creates an uneasy watch, which is exactly what Richards was looking for.
Occasionally it pushes the point a little too often — this may have worked even better as a short film — and the final act does seem outdated, although this has a lot to do with the fact the movie is over 10 years old (you’ll understand when you see it, and the title will certainly be explained). And while you may not watch this more than once, it’s thought-provoking and difficult to forget, a statement that cannot be levelled at many horror movies these days. Based on that, The Last Horror Movie is a success, and recommended.