The horror film has been slowly evolving over the past few years. Especially in the independent market, there has been a resurgence in horror comedies and found footage films.One filmmaker is holding his own with his hauntingly terrifying stories and ingenious camera work. Writer/director Anthony DiBlasi‘s Last Shift is probably the scariest movie to come out in 2015. With it’s great cinematography and simplistic story line, it took us back to when we were kids hiding behind pillows watching films like The Exorcist. WAIH spoke with DiBlasi about his new film earlier this week.
Last Shift stars Juliana Harkavy, Joshua Mikel, and J. LaRose. It tells the following story:
Officer Jessica Loren (Harkavy) has the last shift at a transitioning police station, assigned to wait for a hazmat crew who’s coming to pick up bio-hazard waste from the armory. But unbeknownst to Jessica, it’s more than just an old station. Cult leader John Michael Paymon (Mikel) has haunted the department ever since he and two of his followers committed suicide on the night they were captured. And now Jessica is about to find out how dangerous they can really be when she’s left all alone on this grave-yard shift.
Boston born Anthony DiBlasi studied film at Emerson College. He moved to Los Angeles to finish off his last semester, where he ended up working with the “master of terror” Clive Barker. A quick internship turned into a 10 year course on film making in the horror industry. His first feature film, 2009’s Dread, was actually based off one of Barker‘s short stories.
Like most independent filmmakers, Anthony DiBlasi looked around to see what he had to work with before writing his script. He, along with his producer Scott Poiley, found an old police station in Sanford, FL. It was after he found his location that the script began to take shape. DiBlasi took the isolated design of the station and managed to tell a contained story that focused on both atmosphere and shear terror.
The stand out feature in Last Shift was definitely the villainous cult which haunted the station. “What the main inspiration was, we talked about doing kind of a character that was very Manson-esque. We wanted this cult leader, someone who was charming and scary at the same time.” After watching the highly controversial 1973 documentary Manson, DiBlasi was inspired to base his cult off of the most infamous leader the world has known. One aspect of the film that rings terror down to the bone was the chilling song which becomes a running theme in Last Shift, which was actually based off a real folk hymn sung by the Manson Family.
“It’s a hard thing for an actor to be in every scene of a movie. There is no down time, and it’s a lot of work.” -Anthony DiBlasi
Leading the film on screen was Juliana Harkavy. The character of Jessica Loren is the whole film. The story transforms with her and ultimately ends with her. Juliana‘s performance was nothing short of brilliant. It can’t be easy carrying an entire film like this on your shoulders as an actor, but Juliana manages to pull it off without a hitch.
Without a doubt the most fascinating thing about Last Shift is the camera work. DiBlasi, along with Director of Photography Austin Schmidt, told the story through Officer Loren’s eyes. “The main goal was to be at her point of view for the whole movie. You’re either with her, always behind here, or you’re literally in her eyes. It helps experiencing everything that she does… Her and the audience are always on the same page.” This point of view left them open for some great camera work and tricks. There is one shot in particular, when Officer Loren shines a flashlight at wall across a hallway through a window, that was just beautiful. This glimpse into an empty hallway with a light frantically looking for help, but finds nothing but an endless wall of white. This film was shot with care and precision. The climactic one-shot lasts for about six minutes, and rounds the film off in a way that Clive Barker would be proud.
We asked Anthony about the possibility of making a sequel or prequel. “We, Scott and I, have talked about doing, I suppose a prequel, and a sequel. It’s really based on how Last Shift is gonna perform. It’s doing really well so I think there is a good chance we’ll go back. You know, we talked about writing something in the new year to actually do a prequel. So that is definitely something we’re talking about, and hopefully, you know, we do get to do.”
Overall, Last Shift is something that other indie filmmakers should look up to. This film did not have a large studio budget, and the crew was minimal. You can find Last Shift currently for rent or own on VOD platforms such as Amazon, Vudu, or iTunes as well as on DVD and Blu-Ray which are both currently on sale over at Amazon.com. One last place to currently find the film is for a limited time it will be available on Netflix. Don’t forget to give the Facebook page a follow to keep up with everything Last Shift.
Nevertheless, DiBlasi and his team managed to make a film that looks like a million dollars, and scares the pants off you. We Are Indie Horror recommends you watch this film as soon as possible and be sure to turn all the lights off… that is if you aren’t too scared.