Movies from the Black Lagoon

LAST SHIFT - 2014, Rated R

By Tom Doty

A police woman’s first night on the job may also prove to be her last when she is assigned to guard the old station house which may just be ground zero for a nasty cult looking for revenge.

The story begins with officer Loren taking a call from her mother before stepping out of her car to start work. Mom pleads with her to quit and we soon learn that she has every right to be anxious. Over the course of the film we discover that Dad died on the job a year ago when he squared off against an evil sect led by the charismatic Paymon. This being the anniversary of that night lends an eerie air of synchronicity to the events that unfold.

Loren is told that the station’s calls are all being forwarded to the new precinct house. Her job is merely to babysit the building until a Hazmat team arrives to clean out the remaining junk in the evidence room. That said things get bumpy in a hurry.

First there is the phone call from a kidnapping victim. Turns out the poor woman doesn’t know where she is but it is in farm country since she can hear pigs. Loren asks the station for a trace but all they can do is have her tell the woman to call 911 should she call back.

Next a creepy homeless guy wanders into the station and mistakes the hallway for a urinal. Loren ushers him out but he comes back later forcing her to restrain him. She tosses him in an empty cell (and I mean totally empty as all of the furniture has been moved to the new building. That said an area is never really empty when it’s haunted and the man is soon terrorized.

Noises begin pestering her and in short order they are followed by apparitions and moving objects. It becomes clear that the place is haunted. The ghosts also impart information about what happened a year ago and it doesn’t jibe with what was reported. Were the police telling the truth about storming the Paymon compound?

Pretty soon Loren is struggling to finish this shift while trying to keep a lid on the supernatural elements, lest she lose face with the department or develop a reputation as someone who can’t handle a simple assignment. At least she has her training and firearm but they never covered “ghost -busting” at the academy.

This is a decent white knuckler. The problem with ‘haunted house cinema” is explaining why people don’t just leave the haunted area. Here you get a plausible scenario since Loren wants to keep her job and ,at the same time, not dishonor her dad’s reputation with the department.

The film is told from Loren’s point of view so it helps that the lead actress, Juliana Harkavy, is up to the task (and easy to spend 90 minutes looking at). Joshua Mikel is also good as the Charles Manson like

Paymon. He is charismatic enough to attract followers but the actor has a nasty gleam in his eye that hints at how brutal he guy can get when nobody’s watching. Director/co-writer Anthony DiBlasi does a fine job of building suspense and makes economical use of special effects and sound design to augment the ‘jump scares” that increase as the film goes on. It all leads to a ’ twist in the tale’ ending that I didn’t see coming.

Best Line : “The bodies were gone but pure evil covered those walls.”

LAST SHIFT – 2014, Rated R

By Tom Doty

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

Tom Doty is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.

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