The Last Showing (2014) Revisited – Horror Movie Review with Robert Englund interview

The new episode of the Best Horror Movie You Never Saw video series looks back at The Last Showing, recommended by star Robert Englund

The episode of Best Horror Movie You Never Saw covering The Last Showing was Written by Cody Hamman, Edited by Juan Jimenez, Narrated by Kier Gomes, Produced by John Fallon and Tyler Nichols, and Executive Produced by Berge Garabedian.

Robert Englund terrorizing people throughout the night isn’t a rare sight to see. As the star of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, he has been in some of the most popular horror movies ever made. His performance made the dream-stalking Freddy Krueger a genre icon. But he has around one hundred and fifty screen credits where he didn’t play Freddy. With that much output, it’s not surprising that the occasional project slips completely under the radar. Today, we’re going to shine the spotlight on one of those projects. A film where Englund plays a weaselly projectionist who traps Finn Jones in a movie theatre overnight. It’s Freddy versus Iron Fist in The Last Showing – the Best Horror Movie You Never Saw.

British writer/director Phil Hawkins had made multiple shorts and a few features, but he hadn’t worked in the horror genre yet. Dramas, thrillers, comedies, documentaries. He had all of those covered. But he felt like it was a rite of passage for any filmmaker to make a horror movie. So he began writing one, drawing from his own personal experience of being locked in a multiplex cinema. The title was The Last Showing (watch it HERE), as the characters would be attending the last movie screening of the day. A midnight movie.

It took a couple drafts, but Hawkins soon found an approach to the story that he liked. At the center of this story is projectionist Stuart, who has been projecting film for over twenty-five years. But now things have changed. Theatres have switched over to digital projection. And the skills Stuart has developed are no longer useful. Theatre manager Clive doesn’t even care if the digital projections are shown in the right aspect ratio. And he makes Stuart work the concession stand. While wearing a silly little hat. So Stuart decides to spice up his unfulfilling life by making his own movie. But he doesn’t write a script and go looking for funding. Instead, he decides he’s going to make his own real-life horror movie using people who come to the theatre. He’ll shoot it with his home camera and the security cameras placed throughout the building. And if people die during the production, that’s just good cinema.

The Last Showing Best Horror Movie You Never Saw

Hawkins thought Englund would be great for the role of Stuart. But since his movie was a low budget British production, he also didn’t think he would actually be able to cast Englund. He sent the script to the genre legend anyway. And what happened next was the sort of event you’d see in a heart-warming movie about a guy getting the chance to live his filmmaking dreams. As Hawkins told Flick Feast, “Apparently Robet Englund’s agent called him in the middle of the night and said he had to read the script. Before I knew it I was on the phone with the guy that scared the crap out of me as a kid. Talking about how much he loved the script and the character. It was a real honor.” Englund signed on. And now the villain in Hawkins’ movie was going to be played by one of the greatest villain actors in movie history.

Malachi Kirby was cast Clive. Stuart’s boss, who is much younger than he is. And Emily Berrington and Finn Jones were cast as Allie and Martin. A pair who are pursuing a relationship after recently meeting at a Halloween party. And make the poor decision to attend a late night showing of Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. They’re the only two people who attend the screening. Which, if you’re familiar with the movie, seems very realistic. As soon as they walk through the front doors, Stuart has chosen them to be the stars of his twisted project.

When Hawkins first started writing The Last Showing, it was going to be a straightforward slasher. People get locked inside a movie theatre and someone starts knocking them off one-by-one. But as he was writing it, he was also hating it. It was turning out to be dull and formulaic. Not something he would actually want to make. So he decided to switch gears and make something more meta. That’s when it became about a theatre employee tormenting people because he has decided to make his own real-life horror movie. At first, the villainous character was going to be the theatre manager. But while doing research for the script, Hawkins talked to a few projectionists. And realized it would be much more interesting to make the lead character a projectionist as well. That’s because projectionists were facing a major change in their jobs at that time. Film was being phased out. Film projectors were being replaced by digital projectors. So the idea came to make Stuart a projectionist who reacts very poorly to the changes in theatrical exhibition.

As Hawkins said, the change in story and character “allowed me to shine a light on the genre and hopefully twist those audience expectations of the genre. The film ends up being more of a psychological horror, but I guess that’s what personally scares me more than gore and blood.”

The timeliness of the script did cause a minor disruption in the production. When Hawkins and his crew scouted the theatre filming location, there was still a film projector on the premises. Perfect for a moment where Stuart is shown working with film. Before digital takes over. But by the time filming began, every film projector in the theatre had been replaced with digital projectors. So the moment where we see Stuart handling film had to be shot at a completely different theatre.

When the writer/director first envision The Last Showing, he wanted every single moment to be set inside the theatre. He didn’t want there to be any hint of the outside world. But then a sales agent asked him if he could film some scenes in other locations. Get some exterior shots. Having those would be beneficial for a trailer. Because it gives the impression of the film having a wider scope and bigger production value. So the movie starts following Allie and Martin before they reach the theatre. It shows them meeting at a Halloween party. Talking in a restaurant. Planning their night out at the movies. The sales agent’s request may also be why the climactic moments happen on the roof of the theatre.

Working The Hills Have Eyes Part 2 into the script was an important element for Hawkins. Even though he describes the film as “pretty shockingly bad”. He wanted to be able to show cliché horror movie moments as a contrast to the real horror Stuart puts Allie and Martin through. And Craven’s slasher movie happened to be packed with all of the clichés he wanted to put on the movie screen.

Made on a budget of two million dollars, Hawkins’ own movie turned out very well. The Last Showing had its premiere at the 2014 edition of FrightFest. It received some decent reviews. And landed a distribution deal with Sony Pictures. But, despite having Robert Englund and Finn Jones in the cast, it seems to have been released directly into obscurity. There’s no information on how it performed in rentals or sales. And it’s not a movie that you hear referenced by members of the horror community. It’s a shame, because Englund is actually quite proud of The Last Showing. And he wishes more people had seen it over the last nine years.

He told Den of Geek he enjoyed working with the director and his co-stars, saying, “I loved the script so much, and I fell in love with Emily Berrington. It’s hard not to fall in love with Emily. Then I fell in love with Phil Hawkins after a day and a half of working with him. I was like, ‘Where’s he been all my life?’ … It’s wonderful to know that he knows what he wants. There’s a great freedom in surrender with that kind of director. I was able to lose my vanity, lose my chin, and not worry about my bald spot. I gained some weight and put some padding on, and I had the confidence to use theatre stuff. I used my physicality differently. I just went with it. It’s very liberating when that happens. There’s a lot of the film where Finn Jones is alone, and that’s what really makes the movie work. It’s the long silences, the plot accumulating. Manifesting itself on Finn’s character. And if Finn doesn’t go there, the plot doesn’t move. He has to carry that burden, and I think he’s just marvelous, with the arc of his character.”

The Last Showing Best Horror Movie You Never Saw

Of course, Englund didn’t review his own work in the movie. But when you watch it, you’ll find him giving another excellent villain performance. You’ll also see a demonstration of the range he has. Stuart is a bad guy, but his villainy is nothing at all like Freddy Krueger’s. He’s the deceptive, weaselly sort. He seems like a mild-mannered, frail old man. You would think a young guy like Finn Jones would easily be able to beat him at the game he’s playing. But Stuart has planned his movie in meticulous detail. He’s in full control at every moment. And since he’s the bad guy, it can get frustrating to see how skilled he is at manipulating situations. We’re rooting for Martin to find a way out of the ordeal Stuart has trapped him and Allie in. But most of the time it seems hopeless.

Martin is, admittedly, not the smartest character around. There are times when you’ll have to suspend disbelief in order to go along with the scenarios presented by Hawkins. Martin makes some very dumb moves. Allie has some questionable scenes as well, but we have to let that slide. She’s dealing with being drugged for most of the movie. But even when Martin or Allie have you shaking your head or yelling at the screen, the story is intriguing. It’s impressive to see how Hawkins was able to make the idea sustain the feature running time. There are very few characters and not many places for them to go. Yet Hawkins made it work. We’re wrapped up in the situation and hoping to see a positive outcome.

And Englund is right, Jones does give a strong performance as his dense and troubled character. He was working on Game of Thrones at the same time he was making The Last Showing. And could often be found sleeping on the set. But when he was awake and in front of the camera, he was clearly giving it his all.

For horror fans, some of their favorite scenes may be the ones involving the screening of the The Hills Have Eyes Part 2. Sure, we all know it’s a lesser entry in Craven’s filmography. But it’s also kind of fun to see it referenced and featured in this way. And it’s nice to see how much Allie appears to be enjoying the movie. This would be a sign to many of us that she’s someone special. But Martin’s too busy miserably hating on the horror genre to realize. Indicating that this might not be much of a love connection after all.

There are several scenes where Stuart has to conceal his villainy so his plan will stay on track. But when he has a moment to indulge his evil, Englund really gets a chance to shine. And show how unique his character is. Whether he’s doing a bit of additional dialogue recording for his movie. Or messing with Martin from the other side of a door. Englund makes Stuart a maddening but delightful person to watch.

Phil Hawkins has worked on several more projects since making The Last Showing. He has made shorts. Features. Adventure stories and dramas. A family friendly Christmas movie. He even made a short Star Wars fan film. He hasn’t gotten around to returning to the horror genre yet. But he has let it be known that The X-Files and Jurassic Park were his two biggest sources of inspiration. They are why he wanted to work in the entertainment industry. So chances are that he’ll have more thrilling, creepy stories to share with us in the future. When he does return to horror, it will be very interesting to see. He went through the horror rite of passage with The Last Showing. And made a well-crafted film that deserves to be seen by a larger audience. Hopefully the next Hawkins horror film isn’t far off.

In the meantime, we recommend that you catch up on The Last Showing. Take in a midnight screening. You’ll have to watch out for that creepy guy Stuart behind the concession stand. But it’s worth it. If you don’t want to take our word for it, at least listen to Robert Englund.

A couple previous episodes of the Best Horror Movie You Never Saw series can be seen below. To see more, and to check out some of our other shows, head over to the JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channel – and subscribe while you’re there!

Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.