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Simon Read [Film Festival 05.09.11] movie review horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Alexander Adolph
Writers: Alexander Adolph
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Projectcyclops
Rating: 8 out of 10

The Last Employee is a supernatural horror film for anyone who’s had to stay late at the office and contend with creepy corridors, motion sensor lighting and the long walk to the underground car park. It concerns an unemployed lawyer called David Böttcher (Christian Berkel – you might recognize him as the barman from Ingourious Basterds), a family man who, due to health problems made unclear, has spent three years receiving medical treatment and has finally found himself a new job. During the interview it’s explained by his new boss that an underperforming company is to be dismantled and it’s David’s duty to inform the employees that they’re all fired and to start the inventory of the office supplies and accounts. Not a job anyone would ask for certainly, but it’s either that or he loses the car, the apartment and fails in his duty as a husband and father.

On his first day he arrives at the busy office, takes a deep breath and explains the situation. Most of the employees leave quietly, giving David a screw-you look and heading out the door with their belongings, but one woman remains, her head buried in her keyboard. Would she like a personal chat, asks David, perhaps a cup of coffee? When he returns with two steaming cups, she’s disappeared. On his way home later that day he finds the woman, Helena, standing in front of the office staring at the window where she used to sit. David offers her a lift home and she pleads for him to let her keep the job, or at least come inside for a drink so she can explain how the boss sold the company out to another in Hungary. David patiently says he cannot, that he has to get back to his family, but here’s my card. Big mistake. Helena starts calling David at home, even following him to a meeting at his son’s kindergarten, and he starts to notice things in the office aren’t quite right. The lights flicker on and off at random, the radio gets no signal but blares out static at random, and the door has a nasty habit of locking itself. After David witnesses a terrible event involving the now totally loony Helena, he is plagued by visions and has intense nightmares that start to creep into his reality. As we learn more about his history, and as he starts to breakdown, we realise that David isn’t the simple family man we first thought, and his wife and son begin to fear him in a way that suggests they know something we don’t.

This is how to do modern supernatural horror right. Writer/director Alexander Adolph perfectly captures a sense of creeping dread and the fractured state of mind of the protagonist, played very well by Berkel. I was reminded of Jeremy Irons in “Dead Ringers” as he starts to wildly self-medicate, popping pills like they were candy, imagining conversations with people who haven’t even opened their mouths and creating horrific visions in his mind. The setting of an abandoned modern office is inspired, and it made me glad I’ve had to take a temp job in a place where you have to wave your arms around in order to get the lights working. There’s something extremely eerie about the static, urban and sterile office environment that lends itself beautifully to the paranormal plot elements.

There are dozens of clever references too, horror buffs and even just film fans in general can have lots of fun spotting nods to films ranging from Taxi Driver to Suspiria and Blair Witch and beyond, this is a competent director who is clearly having fun with the material. The special effects by gorehound Olaf Ittenbach are wonderfully realised. Anyone who knows that name will be aware that he likes the red stuff and one scene in particular stands out as absolute genius, if you see this you’ll know exactly which one I’m talking about, the audience gave it a huge round of applause after a theatre wide gasp of shock. Great stuff.

In conclusion, this is a film that I will not only buy when it comes to DVD, I’ll buy it for my friends too, and if there’s another screening in Edinburgh any time soon, I’ll be there early to get a good seat.

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