Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans



Directed by Alan Scott Neal.
Starring Jessica Belkin, Jeremy Sisto, Taylor Kowalski. Thriller, 81 minutes, USA.


Released by Blue Finch Films.


Reviewed as part of Glasgow FrightFest 2024.


A smart compact thriller with a memorably vicious edge, Last Straw is a calling card for debut director Alan Scott Neal. Viewers expecting another low budget siege thriller, this time taking place in a roadside diner, may find themselves surprised by the surprises contained within, leading onto a film that although it does not re-invent or galvanise its own sub-genre earns more than enough in keeping the viewer gripped with its relevant and character driven edge.


Fed up with her small-town life, Nancy waitresses at her father’s diner. Receiving some potentially life changing news, the young woman is forced to endure yet another shift and take on managerial duties. It is a decision that does not go down too well with the staff, including cook Jake, and his handicapped brother Petey, who treat her with disdain and do not take her seriously. More loyal is lovestruck Jackson, who tries his best to stay on Nancy’s good side, standing by her when a group of moped riding boys decide to cause a scene within the diner after a telling off from Nancy. As night descends Nancy finds herself under attack from a group of mask wearing thugs and is forced to defend and reckon with herself as she learns of the true nature behind the attack.


There is a lot here that is familiar already. Whether it is the sparse credits that will seem very familiar to fans of John Carpenter’s own siege classic ASSAULT ON PRECINCT THIRTEEN, or the synth driven score that also recalls the great director/composer, viewers may have a certain sense of deja vu. Then when you get to the attackers in store bought masks trope you could be forgiven for throwing in the towel if you had already seen this play out so many times in THE PURGE franchise. However just as you think you know exactly how this is going to play out a genuine shock and surprise pops out of nowhere upending both the narrative and the viewer.


What follows is genuinely more intriguing, throwing a different light on what has come before. Without giving too much away we are then treated to an involving spin on the sub-genre that nicely explores its characters and surroundings before giving us plenty of full -blooded action in the final act that still manages to throw in a couple of other genuine shocks.


LAST STRAW is a rewarding little watch. Its low budget roots are apparent, but it makes the most of its premise with a smarter than usual script and very interesting character work. At first it seems like the same old predictable woman in peril movie but for those that stick with it they will be rewarded with a sly, clever and much more involving take that other low budget directors would do well to learn from.


Iain MacLeod.


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Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans