Out of many things missed during the pandemic, high amongst them for me would be going to see movie in theaters. Nothing quite beats the experience of enjoying a movie, especially a horror movie, with a big crowd of people, both friends and strangers, and having some fun. But what if someone in the audience wasn’t there for the show… but for a killer time?
This is the premise of The Last Matinee aka Red Screening . Following a small metropolitan movie theater in urban Argentina on a dark, rainy day during the early 1990s as it holds a final matinee screening for the day. The crew of the theater including Ana, (Luciana Grasso El Secreto de Julia) the daughter of the theater’s projectionist and a student struggling to keep her life balanced with her family’s work at the theater. The final screening of a Frankenstein styled movie (Actually 2011’s Frankenstein: Day of the Beast directed by Ricardo Isla who also plays the killer) has attracted a crowd of all stripes including a romantic couple, a trio of rambunctious teens, a gruff old man, and one nasty eye gouging serial murderer! As the bodies begin piling up and the show soon reaches the finale, who will survive and will the show go on?
The Last Matinee is a slasher throwback through and through with a distinct giallo inspired pedigree. It relishes in the style and form of those kinds of late 80’s/early 90’s horror movies with unironic glee, and you can’t help but love it. It has the typical set-up. A cast of characters gathered in a dark, creepy, isolated location getting picked off one by one without the others even realizing it. Speaking of, in terms of kill scenes, The Last Matinee does a phenomenal job of utilizing its setting and style in creating some very memorable killer sequences. The first coming to mind involving a smoker getting his throat slit mid-puff and the exhaust escaping his neck wound in a stylized slow motion sequence that would make Argento proud. Stabbings, impalement, eye gouging… all grounded and brutally brought to life on the audience within the movie.
And of course, a slasher is only as good as its killer, and we have Come Ojos: The Eye Eater. And why is he called that? Because he eats eyes. In fact, he loves to eat eyes so much, he carries around a big jug of pickled oculars to snack on during the film! And why is he doing this? Who knows. He’s a homicidal maniac! Perfectly fitting with the throwback tone of the feature. In terms of design, he’s a traditional rain slicker killer like I Know What You Did Last Summer or Alice Sweet Alice. Either way, he’s imposing and his dark clothes render him nigh invisible in the shadows of the theatre.
The film follows a lot of those traditional slasher conventions, including a moody synth soundtrack to a T but without feeling all that derivative. I think it works so well because you can tell the filmmakers are fans and are so genuine about it without using the past necessarily as a crutch. Which is the thing, it’s just fun! Simple as that. And I would relish the opportunity to actually experience it in a proper theater.
So, if you’re in the market for an old-school cinematic slasher you should buy one ticket for The Last Matinee when it becomes available!