If there are any good underrated horror gems out there, then one of the scariest and most memorable is likely to be Last Shift, a rookie cop’s frightening night in an abandoned police station that is haunted by the vengeful souls of a Manson-like family; the tension is of a perfect tightness which will hold steadily throughout the film, which has an average running time of about 80 minutes. Still, time enough to frighten the audience.
The cast is small, with a few big names, such as Juliana Harkavy of AMC’s The Walking Dead, who plays the main character, a rookie officer by the name of Loren who is assigned by her commanding sergeant, Cohen, played by Hank Stone, to finish out the last shift in an old police station; as the new station is finished and everyone has moved into it in the past weeks. He shows her quickly around the emptied rooms–the holding cells and the evidence room are possibly the most important places in the film–and makes a specific point to say she will receive no emergency calls whatsoever while on shift, since the 911 number has been redirected to the new station. Then, having explained the basics, Cohen leaves the fledgling Officer Loren inside the station, where she is expected to remain from 10:00 to 4:00 of the next morning.
Except, when she finally settles at her desk after her first glance around the station, the phone begins to ring…and after that unusual occurrences start taking place within the station; and she fights to save her mind…
From then on the movie is based heavily on suspense and psychological terror, using some skillful tactics to hold the audience’s attention; tight camera angles are not overused and actually help to stimulate the stuffy, narrow surroundings, while also relating the fright Loren is experiencing to the viewer quite intensely. Music, as well, does not play too significant of a role in the film, and is more so in the background, supporting the eerie ambience of flickering lights and slamming chairs.
This film has its share of terrifying scenes, a few of which will likely stick with the viewer a couple of hours after the end credits. Now, it is perhaps not on the level of acclaim that such recent films as The Conjuring and the cult hit You’re Next have achieved in less amounts of time, but, one has to remember it does not appear to have the largest budget; although, the old station looks like a genuine haunt, and it will make people think twice about taking the last shift at any dilapidated business, especially one as lonely as a police station.
With a strong female lead who is as relatable as many other horror heroines, among them Laurie Strode and Ellen Ripley,and a promising set of villains that act out unexpectedly whenever given the chance, the movie Last Shift is a well-done psychological horror film that probably deserves more attention that it has received since its release date two years ago–seriously, go check it out; if you’re lucky and can buy it, then buy it, but also scan through Netflix for this hidden gem.