Rookie, Officer Jessica Loren (Juliana Harkavy) has the honour of working the last shift at an old police station. What she doesn’t know is this station is the final resting place of the murderous satanic Paymon cult responsible for the death of her cop father. Aside from a few strange phone calls, nothing seems to be wrong…until the lights go out…
It comes as no surprise to see director DiBlasi working his creepiest magic after the human puppet horrors of 2011’s Casadaga. The nightmarish imagery is very Clive Barker’s Hellraiser with maybe a hint of Steve Beck’s reworking of Thirteen Ghosts (2001). He borrows a few visual tricks here and there from the classics such as Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist (1982) and even M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense (1999).
However, his best moments are when he reminds us stiff upper lipped horror folk how much fun it is to be afraid of the dark. The bulk of the movie’s most effective scenes are shrouded in complete and utter pitch-black, with the cell in which the Paymon cult shed their mortal coil naturally being the centre of all the madness.
Harkavy plays Loren so well, creating a character that is easy to route for. As well as being tough yet compassionate, she is vulnerable yet resilient. She’s also a very pretty young lass which, whether unfairly or not, means girl’s got a lot to prove, to everyone, and even herself.
Strangely enough I didn’t find the Paymon cult particularly intimidating until the final act. Plus, a tone-deaf hooker smoking at the back door of the police station, while different to the old cliché neatly put in place by Friday the 13th’s (1980) Crazy Ralph, it is hardly the spookiest way to be warned of impending doom. And though a group of singing girls is eerier than say the deathly ringtone from the 2008 remake of One Missed Call, in theory, it is perhaps the most forgettable horror jingle I’ve heard. “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you”, may be borderline juvenile, but it works and it sticks. For the record, I have no complaints about Mr. Paymon’s devil face. More devil face, I say!
Creepy and tense, with a main character you can care about, Last Shift is DiBlasi’s best work to date.