This poster for The Last Matinee is a little puzzling, with its warning of “No Talking, no texting, no breathing,” because for a story taking place in 1993, there wasn’t likely to be much texting, was there?
Details, details. Cinema doesn’t need to make sense and often we don’t get all of the answers we wish, or sometimes, even any of them. Such is the case of this 2020 Uruguayan homage to brutal retro slashers and saturated Giallo films, The Last Matinee.
The film opens on a rainy evening with movie-goers exiting the theatre between films, while the staff is cleaning up and switching out in advance of the last showing of the night. A young boy fumbles a handful of colorful gumballs as he is dawdling behind his mother; we watch the candied orbs roll past his fingertips to bink and bonk down the staircase in sinister, dreamy slow motion. Foreshadowing? Keep your eyes peeled.
Engineering student Ana takes over the projector booth to give her ailing father a break from the potential of pulling a double shift. As he heads out, we learn of the other folks in the nearly empty theatre: Mauricio, a rumpled usher with a terrible haircut who ineptly flirts with Ana while a couple on an awkward date settles into their seats; a trio of obnoxious teens speculates about an attractive girl they saw on the bus who got off a stop earlier and who also happens to be in the theatre; and an underage kid, who has hidden under the rows, now climbs into his seat to watch the corny old-school Frankenstein thriller as the lights dim and the movie begins.
Unbeknownst to all of them, someone else has bought a ticket for this film– a trenchcoated killer with a murky jar full of eyeballs who begins violently picking off the moviegoers one by one. Who is he? Why is he doing this? We never learn. He’s not even masked, and he’s no one that is ever mentioned or referenced, even obliquely (like you know, in a 3-second news flash in the background, “killer on the loose!” or some such.) His identity is literally that unimportant.
The Last Matinee is lurid, gory, grotesque fun. Except for the killer, everyone’s got just enough personality to root for, or at least to care that their head’s being slammed into a toilet seat, or that their nice silk blouse is covered in blood from their own stab wounds, or whatever– you kinda like these people, even if you don’t get to spend very much time with them. (RIP Mauricio at the 10 minute mark, even you were kinda fun!)
I found The Last Matinee on Shudder, and I really enjoyed it!
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