Neil Young’s Film Lounge – The Last Horror Movie



UK 2004 : Julian RICHARDS : 80 mins

Cod video-diary by smarmy middle-class London sociopath-about-town Max (Kevin Howarth). Looks like cross between P.Brosnan and H.Grant. Claims 50+ kills (plausible in socially-atomised Blairite UK). Is bunglingly “aided” by (mostly-unseen) potato-faced Scots homeless “assistant” (Mark Stevenson). In between somewhat graphic/repetitive kill-footage, preening ubermensch-ish Max addresses camera in series of monologues questioning motives of audience: “We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before – we’re trying to make an intelligent movie about murder, while actually doing the murders!”

Overarticulate Max strains desperately for originality, as does movie. But subject-matter of (James Handel’s) script more nimbly addressed last decade in Man Bites Dog, Haneke’s Funny Games, and in book (but emphatically not crap film) of American Psycho. Even the title has (kind-of) been used before: 1984’s Cannes-set Joe Spinell/Caroline Munro vehicle The Last Horror Film. And this time the title isn’t even 100% accurate: picture actually works much better in black-comedy moments (especially when Max is undercut by being placed in domestic settings with his own relatives) than when trying (rather too hard) to give viewer post-modern chills – as in smartarse epilogue which only makes sense if viewer has rented title from video-store and is watching at home.

Likewise (nifty) prologue, in which cheesy generic sub-W.Craven pic is abruptly interrupted, having been ‘recorded over’ by the subversive Max. Director Richards (Darklands) achieves some impressive stripped-down, convincingly basic (Man-Bites-dogme?) sequences on reported 50,000 budget, and plays range of tricks/games on and with audience expectations. But the verbose Mad Max monologues bog the movie down: end result is like being lectured to and ticked off by an insufferably smug git.

12th June, 2004
(seen on VHS in Sunderland, 10th June)

To read an interview with director Julian Richards click here

by Neil Young