It was nearly two years ago that I watched my first South American giallo, Abrakadabrah. I thought it was a great homage. The visual style was beautiful, and really, that’s a big reason why I love many gialli to begin with.
So when I spied the Argentinian-Uruguayan film The Last Matinee on Arrow Player, I knew I needed to give it a whirl. And I was pretty impressed, a movie with lots of nods to its predecessors while being able to stand on its own. Not always possible with these nostalgia-drenched movies.
The Last Matinee follows young engineering student Ana as she covers her father’s late shift as a projectionist at the Opera cinema in Montevideo. Everything seems normal during a rainy night in 1993 as the audience begins to trickle in for a horror flick.
Only one of these guests isn’t just there for blood on screen. He’s there for pickled foods, blood on his black gloves…AND YOUR EYEBALLS.
As the audience and Ana continue their night unaware of the lurking danger, the black-gloved man kills off the last-remaining cinema worker. He promptly locks the rest of the unwitting victims inside. He proceeds to knock off the audience one by one.
When the film stops suddenly, one of the girls in the audience realises that two kids have a pole through their eyes. As the audience (or what’s left of them) begins to panic, Ana realises that there’s something wrong below. But the man in the black gloves is quick to find the last of them and begins to stalk them throughout the theatre.
The ending here is like if Dèmoni lost its paranormal edge and veered ever-so-slightly closer to the American urban legend-style slasher. The use of the cinema as a set is just so good, it holds its own against the likes of Popcorn and Bava.
It’s certainly slow in its build, but the last act is nonstop and delightful (and very bloody). The only thing that was lacking for me was a great twist or reveal at the end. Gialli should shock you, but here we know who the killer is all along. That is fine, but I still wanted something at the end to make me gasp or be surprised.
But that’s not massive, the rest of the ride is really enjoyable. Plus the soundtrack is soooo good. Lots of synth. Maybe not wholly appropriate for 1993, but it suits the neon-soaked scenes so well that I will allow it. Can we get it on Spotify or something though, please?
Whatever you horror directors are doing in South America, please keep it up.