The Last Video Store - FrightFest Halloween UK Premiere
Director: Cody Kennedy, Tim Rutherford
Starring: Yaayaa Adams, Kevin Martin, Matthew Kennedy, Josh Lenner, Leland Tilden
Written by: Joshua Roach, Tim Rutherford
Produced by: Laurence Gendron, Greg Jeffs
Cinematography by: Benji Irwin
Original Score by: Brandon Boucher
A young woman in possession of a legendary "cursed tape" returns it to a video store and re-awakes its curse, which leads to the release of a raft of cinematic villains.
It feels like everywhere you look now, in every direction, there is a nostalgia fuelled horror film slapping you in the face begging to be watched. I'm here for it. I've often said that nostalgia is the most powerful drug in the entire world. But it does sometimes cloud my judgement and just because something tugs on my nostalgia strings it doesn't mean I'm gonna be a fan. 'The Last Video Store' lands somewhere in between.
Cody Kennedy and Tim Rutherford go full on meta here with in jokes and not so in jokes and always with a huge emphasis on an obvious call back to films they enjoyed growing up like for example 'Predator' and 'Friday the 13th' and throwing in a dash of Kevin Smith's 'Clerks' for good measure.
Blaster Video is owned and ran by Kevin, a 40 something year old (maybe 50 something?) who just wants things to be how they used to be. Desperately clutching to the past and very willing to pass on all his knowledge of horror and science fiction films. His day is about to get very weird when Nyla walks in with a bunch of overdue tapes that she is returning on behalf of her father, who happens to be one of Kevin's top customers. Nyla doesn't seem too interested in anything Kevin has to say and is here purely to get rid of all the tapes. However Kevin feels like it is his duty to "educate" her. Then he spots it. She has a tape that doesn't belong to him. An infamous VHS that Kevin just must watch. Could it be the dreaded Videonomicon?
Creatures and characters from this infamous VHS begin to manifest themselves into the real world and attack Nyla and Kevin, a bit like the end of 'Last Action Hero' and Kevin must use all his unfathomable knowledge about the movies to protect Nyla and himself and combat these villainous creatures before it's too late.
'The Last Video Store' will likely only appeal to those of a certain age who once frequented similar destinations as Blaster Video, or at least to those who have some sort of appreciation for that bygone era. It has its humorous moments but it's attraction is in how it reminds us all of the familiar characters we use to (and perhaps still do) love. Large poorly CGI'd bug creatures (Kevin explains that the CGI is supposed to be bad) and a masked and relentless, muscular killer, a blatant nod to Jason Voorhees. It also has it's gratuitous gory moments which are entertaining.
It's pretty well made with some cool action sequences full of typical 80s neon lighting, which seems to be the go to thing when trying to enhance that retro 80s look. Kevin does come across as being very genuine. That might be because in real life he does in fact own a physical media rental store. He's got great comedy timing when delivering his lines. He reminded me a bit of an older and more pissed off Randy from 'Scream'. Yaayaa Adams' facial expressions are a bit too much at times, probably at the request of the directors, but I think it would've worked better had she played it more straight and realistic. She's got great charisma and the two do have a really great rapport onscreen though which is enjoyable to watch.
I was a big fan of all the fake movies included (Beaverlake Massacre - what a title) and especially when the camera switches to the retro TV screen mode and we get to see some awesome VHS visuals. Maybe it happens a little too much at times but I enjoyed it anyway.
With an 80s inspired synthy score 'The Last Video Store' is a passionate B-movie love letter that really tries to be original by ironically borrowing trope after trope from all corners of 80s horror and sci-fi. It definitely succeeds in trying too hard at times but it's pure cheese and brainless entertainment.
- Gavin Logan
'The Last Video Store' received its UK Premiere at FrightFest Halloween on October 28th