The Last Horror Movie is a 2003 British found footage horror mockumentary, written by James Handel and directed by Julian Richards. Beginning his career with the award-winning shorts Pirates (1987), Queen Sacrifice (1988), and Bad Company (1992); Julian later moved on to feature-length productions such as Darklands (1996) and Daddies Girl (2018) to name a few. Whereas James has worked on a handful of shorts since The Last Horror Movie as well feature-length horror The Hoarder (2015).

Max Parry, a mild-mannered amateur filmmaker/serial killer with a taste for human flesh, has created a fly-on-the-wall documentary on life, death, and murder. By recording his film onto a corny slasher rental VHS from his local video store, Max follows these unwilling victims who rent this tampered video home for their opinions on his magnum opus—before adding their brutal murders to his snuff showreel.

A character study in murder, The Last Horror Movie (actually the title of the fictitious slasher this film is ‘recorded’ over) is exceedingly reminiscent of Belgium crime drama Man Bites Dog (1992) in its found footage visuals and philosophical content. Both are mockumentaries following a serial killer as they live their life as well as engage in their favourite hobby of homicide, The Last Horror Movie purposely lacks the same comedic elements displayed in its Belgium counterpart. Additionally, where Man Bites Dog contains a strong focus on desensitization and complicity, The Last Horror Movie casts its view down a different path investigating the inner contentment of the human mind to produce two similar yet uniquely different pieces of cinema.

Furthermore, our psychotic protagonist Max, played by Kevin Howarth, is portrayed as a visual blend of American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman and British rom-com actor Hugh Grant—elegantly delivering their charismatic charm and psychotic thought process that alludes to an incredibly human depiction of evil. Scenes of Max enjoying life with family are interspliced with him snuffing out the lives of his victims replicating the duality found in numerous real-life serial killers that are often able to keep the two aspects of their completely separate. As such, this exceedingly well-written character would comfortably blend in with the viewers’ everyday life, reinforcing the film’s meta-horror overtones and realistic approach.

Max parry

In addition, the film’s implementation of practical special effects borders on ingenious in their design. Although limited in their execution, their effective utilization is the veritable icing on the realism cake. Missing the abundance of gore prolific in extreme cinema, the production employs a less-is-more strategy with its visualization of death that undoubtedly works in the film’s intention of pragmatism over shock and awe. However, that isn’t to say the film doesn’t contain its fair share of visceral action, with scenes of a helpless victim tied to a chair being set ablaze as a particular standout from the abundance of grisly deaths.

Although roaming a well-traveled path, The Last Horror Movie is an auspicious entry to the growing genre of serial killer mockumentaries. With an incredibly absorbing performance from Kevin Howarth, the film is a believably ruthless representation of violence, as well as its self-reflective ideology; The Last Horror Movie is an incredibly enjoyable albeit an ephemeral piece of found footage cinema best enjoyed on the small screen. 

The Last Horror Movie is available to watch on Amazon Prime here.*

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