The Last Matinee (Al morir la matinee) (2021)

Back in the golden age of video stores, a lot of times when you weren’t informed on certain video releases, you’d pretty much have to rent something out of the blue. Sometimes you came home with a lemon, and sometimes you ended up renting something amazing. “The Last Matinee” feels like that lost video store gem, that movie inhabiting the corner of the horror section of the video store that is waiting to be discovered. And when it’s discovered it’s bound to blow you out of your seat.

On a stormy night in Montevideo in 1993, an engineering student named Ana takes over the duties of her father, a projectionist at a declining movie theatre, due to his ill health. Unbeknownst to her, and the audience watching the film that she is running are being murdered one by one by a mysterious hooded killer who delights in offing the movie goers. As the body count rises within the locked up theater, Ana decides to fight back against the ruthless killer, or else become one of his mutilated victims.

Maxi Contenti’s “The Last Matinee” is a tribute to the thrill of horror movies, the spectacle of movie theaters, and of course the classic giallo slasher film. While most of the movie is basically an ensemble film with tongue planted firmly in cheek, Contenti stages every single murder with as much viciousness as possible. Almost reminiscent of the murders of “Pieces,” the killer (scene stealer Ricardo Islas) of this horror film takes no prisoners. Even worse, he doesn’t seem to have much of a motive to much of what he sets in to motion. This not only frees us of clumsy exposition that slows down the pacing, but it makes the villain all the more terrifying.

What’s scarier than being incapable of comprehending why anyone would commit such horrendous murders? Much of “The Last Matinee” is directed with excellent tension and suspense, taking its simplistic and setting and small cast, and building on what’s bound to be a blood drenched explosion. Contenti paints the lens with bold hues of red and blue turning the theater in to a horrifying setting. All the while he pays homage to many classic horror films with theater settings, including “Demons,” “Opera,” and even “Popcorn.” While the experience is the star of “The Last Matinee,” you can’t discount the great turn by Luciana Grasso who is the classic slasher final girl.

Co-stars Franco Duran and Julieta Spinelli are also memorable as a pair of movie loving teens that become inadvertent victims in the killer’s spree. “The Last Matinee” garners immense style, along with fantastic substance and a brilliant, subtle sense of humor. It’s the meta-horror film done correctly, and it deserves huge fanfare.

Now Available on VOD, Digital HD, and DVD.