Crash Analysis: THE LAST HORROR MOVIE (UK, 2003)

Didn’t take it far enough

A serial killer hijacks a horror movie to bring us the real deal…

AMERICAN PSYCHO + MAN BITES DOG = THE LAST HORROR MOVIE

That’s certainly not a bad thing by any means. The only problem for screenwriter James Handel and director Julian Richards is that they didn’t take the story far enough. And the proof may be in the many message boards about the movie, because you’ll often see this one-word phrase by naysayers: pointless.

Regardless, Max (Kevin Howarth) tapes his kills and brings them to us with his commentary. If anything, he wants to know why we watch, why we continue to look on as he maims and murders men and women for his own fix. And with Max’s musings and questions, LAST becomes quite quotable. But if many deem the movie “pointless”, what were Richards and Handel striving to bring the audience?

On one level, Max is simply calling out for answers. After all, he has a nephew he adores, and maintains both family and friend based relationships. Yet he kills others without remorse or concern. An opportunistic killer, Max delivers his musings about the horror of being predatory, before, during and after his murders. However, the philosophizing only goes so far. There are no answers for Max and for the audience, and we are only left to wonder and pontificate on why we subjected ourselves to ninety minutes of torture porn.

And this is certainly where the filmmakers missed their grand opportunity. Max’s murders are never really drawn out and he dispatches his victims rather quickly. If a page had been taken from Tarantino’s phenomenal use of suspense (at that time, RESERVOIR DOGS (1992), PULP FICTION (1994) and even his FOUR ROOMS (1995) segment), the audience would have had a hard time sitting idle. Instead, we’re never left with enough gut wrenching experiences to make us feel dirty. Then again, this does coincide with Max’s psyche. Since he doesn’t care, and kills at a fast pace, the audience, like Max, is left without any sense of attachment to the sufferers. We never get to know the victims, therefore, we can only be invested so much in their slaying. Intellectually, we know the murder of innocents is wrong, but emotionally, we are not attached to care on a deeper level. Once we realize this, maybe the movie will hold more weight. After all, shouldn’t we care more whether we know the victim or not? It’s as if we’re watching a news program and learn that a kid was killed in a drive-by. But since we’ve heard this countless times, and since we don’t know the victim, well, it’s sad, but…

Richards and Handel missed a grand opportunity because they could have gotten us emotionally involved if Max suddenly decided to take out his nephew or sister. And knowing this could have happened at any point in the story does give one pause, but since this scene never materialized, the audience is deprived of digging as deep as they should.

Yet, just because the story falls short, the zeal, vigor and intensity of actor Kevin Howarth as Max, is enough to keep us invested. Howarth owns the screen and delivers at every turn with rough and biting commentary, from a rugged, good looking man that could easily be Patrick Bateman’s brother.

Overall, the acting is quite solid and the movie is shot well. However, if we’re to gain something from this – something to rattle our brains and make us think about why we love horror, it just doesn’t work. And instead of being a horror that is truly disturbing and thought provoking, we’re left with something a bit better than average.

3 out of 5 stars

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