THE LAST LETTER
Reviewed by: Dave Murray
What's it about
A jury sits in judgement of an accused serial killer, and as they deliberate, the 'facts' of the case are not as black and white as they seem when all of the jurors are keeping secrets. It's a simple and often used premise, which should be hard to screw up, right? Watch as a humble yet opinionated DVD reviewer gets hit over the head repeatedly with the Hammer Of Stupidity that is The Last Letter.
Is it good movie?
This has to be, for me at least, one of the worst and most mind-bogglingly boring movies I've ever seen. I mean, seriously, it ranks right down there with Ishtar and that softcore lesbian porn spoof of Spider-Man staring Misty Mundae (except that both of those had some semblance of production values and acting). It's hard to know where to begin criticising it, the movie is so awfully bad.
First off, the story (what there was of it) was so laughably predictable even though it never really went anywhere. Taking place in one room, the jurors in the movie either listened silently or argued amongst themselves as one of them (the usually good William Forsythe) rhymes off the points of the murderer's 14 kills. This in and of itself is pretty boring and even insulting, with monologues laced with a grade school understanding of Criminology and psychological profiling. How any of the people involved in the making of this stinker can think their way from point A to B is beyond me. And the twist ending is lame, to say the least. The real killer (Yancy Butler) is a member of jury, and the whole month long trial was merely a ruse to get her to expose herself. Yes, the rest of the jurors are cops, and the accused killer even turns out to be no less than the police captain! And to add insult to injury, they even tacked on a hokey double twist that revealed that the letters the killer carved in the forheads of her victims (in a very poor rip-off of Peter Jackson's The Frighteners) that there were in fact two killers. Yes, yet another staple of Criminological thought debunked by independent cinema!
The next sore point for me was the acting, which was horrible here on levels I wouldn't have believed. The characters are all stereotypical, two dimensional representations of everyday life. Let's see, we have the brainy professor, the arrogant homophobic bigot, the proud black woman, the elderly lady, the jury slut, the successful urban black male, the latino stud, the precocious student, and the nervous and timid young woman. Their interactions, which usually devolve into bickering and namecalling, are uselesss wastes of time in a movie that is, well, a waste of time. Even Forsythe and Butler struggle under the weight of hokey dialogue and poorer than poor pacing, and their performances come out worse than the others. In the end, Butler's English accent is so horribly bad that I almost didn't stick around to watch the excitement of the extra ending! Oh, and just for the record, it's called the Metropolitan Police Service at New Scotland Yard, not the bloody Scotland Yard Police Department! Nice fact checking, folks.
Lastly, the direction here by Russell Gannon is minimal at best. Whoever's decision it was to use the ugly yellow sepia video filter on the killer flashback scenes needs to go back to cable access TV and never be involved in another movie again. There is no action in this movie, and by no action I mean that you'll either be snoring or fast forwarding your way through it in no time at all. There is no tension, narrative drive, cohesion or sense to this movie, and if there was a way to prevent others the pain of watching it, I would.
As with everything bad that I watch, I tried hard to find at least one redeeming quality. So I'll leave things here, because I came up empty handed, and now it's time to fill up the 88 minutes of dead space this movie left in my brain with something worthwhile. At least I can't watch anything worse tonight.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen 1.65:1.
Audio: English (Dolby Digital 2.0).
None, and thankfully so.
About as exciting as hardening concrete and as dumb as a sack of hammers, The Last Letter displays the kind of filmmaking and acting laziness that I thought people who were making movies would have been too embarrassed to release, or even let other people see at all. Galactically bad on all accounts, there was seriously nothing likeable in this entire package. Take my advice and heed my warnings, avoid this one like a plague ridden hooker. Everyone involved in this steaming turd should be sentenced to wear a bag over their head for at least the next seven years in abject shame. Oh yeah... and they are never allowed to make movies again! Only in a place called Every Movie Lover's Fantasy.