“The Last Horror Movie is one of the cleverest films I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a complex character study that masquerades as a horror movie. James Handel has crafted an intelligent and nuanced screenplay that never once plays for cheap thrills. Brilliant.
The film begins in typical slasher movie fashion with a waitress alone in a diner. She hears a noise and calls out for her friend, no one answers. Behind her, a man with a knife pops up and…
…and then the film cuts out and we see the smiling face of a handsome British man named Max being filmed with a video camera. He explains to us that he taped over the movie because he wants to show us something. It’s a little film he made about himself and about life.
You see, Max is a brutal murderer who’s managed to convince a weak willed homeless man to follow him around with a camera taping everything he says and does. What makes Max different from virtually every other killer in movies, however, is that the rationalization he offers us almost makes sense; if you have no moral scruples whatsoever that is. One clue into Max’s thinking is that the first person he ever killed was a suicidal man who hated his life. “If you hate your life so much, why go on living?” Max asks himself. The answer comes when he pushes the man off a building.
This film will inevitably be compared to “Man Bites Dog”, which is really not apt at all. Beyond the similar filming techniques and a general thematic element, the movies share very little in common. “Man Bites Dog” was about the psychology of a murderer. “Last Horror Movie” is about the psychology of murder itself.
Why kill someone else? Why would anyone do that?
“Last Horror Movie” comes as close as any film I’ve seen to giving an answer and it’s not one that people will like because it doesn’t demonize Max, nor does it solve the problem.
The film speculates that society sets itself up to be slaughtered. We live these timid, uninteresting lives and we often make choices that trap us in a boring existence on a whim. Max feels he’s above these people, he feels that he’s not really taking their lives since they didn’t have much of a life to begin with.
Max’s day job is also telling of his personality. He’s a wedding photographer. Not so much for the money, we suspect, but because he likes to observe people. He likes to wonder why the hell this man and that woman decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Do they really even know what they’re doing? He films them on the happiest day of their lives and scours the tapes for a crack in the facade.
But I’m making Max sound like a weepy man conflicted by what he does, which isn’t the case at all. He’s a cold, calculating monster whose curiosity about his crimes and victims is similar to that of a cat playing with a mouse.
The most frightening aspect of the film is how dead on, we suspect, it is about the justification that killers give themselves to take a life. From Jack the Ripper to the 9/11 hijackers it always comes back to the same thing: “I am better than these people.” and “Their life wasn’t worth anything anyway.”
This is a lot more disturbing to me, than the simplistic consensus that murderers are hate filled. Tell me, if they’re so hateful then how do you explain the Son of Sam or Ted Bundy? Both were smiling, cheerful men who “got along” with everyone. You’d think someone seething with hate would act out more often. No, it’s the dismissal of human life that’s dangerous. Worse still, is that it’s something we all do at one time or another. Whether we want to admit it or not.
But enough speculation on my part, “Last Horror Movie” is a lot more eloquent than I could ever be and it let’s you make up your own mind. Watch it, you won’t regret it.