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Review: The Last Laugh (2020)

People say they would kill to be famous. Most of them, of course, wouldn’t. But would they keep quiet and let others die if their big break were on the line? That’s the question facing Myles (Steve Vanderzee) in The Last Laugh.

Myles was a stand-up comedian with a promising future until a personal tragedy intervened. He still performs, but his edge, and the good gigs are gone. His manager Nelson (Eric Stone) has gotten him one more chance, opening for a formerly famous comedian Reggie Ray (Lowell Deo, The Last Slay Ride, Due Justice) who’s making a comeback. He’s also convinced promoter Isabella (Tonya M. Skoog) to attend.

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However, as showtime approaches, Myles realizes he has two problems. The medication he’s been taking since his wife’s death doesn’t seem to be helping anymore. And he’s found a dead body in the theatre. Determined that nothing will deny him this opportunity, he says nothing. Then he finds another one.

Writer/director Jeremy Berg has previously directed The Device and a segment of the anthology film Holiday Hell. However, he also has a producer’s credit on Hunting Grounds, which I liked and Ayla, which I liked even more. While those focused on supernatural or cryptid creatures, The Last Laugh’s monster is quite human. Maybe.

Like another recent film, Those Who Deserve to Die, The Last Laugh was pitched to me as being Giallo styled. It’s also compared to the distinctly non-giallo Suspiria. It certainly influenced the poster. However, apart from the theatre allegedly being haunted, there’s little influence in the actual film.

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There are some superficial similarities to Michele Soavi’s Stage Fright and a throwaway reference to the film Short Night of the Glass Dolls. But it has much more in common with theatre-oriented slashers such as Curtains or The Flesh and Blood Show than a Giallo.

As a slasher, it’s not bad, if a bit slow. There are some nice practical effects courtesy of Lisa van Dam-Bates (Marla). And the large, mostly empty theatre allows for plenty of suspenseful moments. However, The Last Laugh doesn’t really take advantage of its premise.

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Everyone should be on edge already because of how important this show is supposed to be. But apart from Nelson, nobody seems overly concerned. That ready-made tension would have helped get the audience on edge even before the first body is discovered.

Apart from that though, The Last Laugh should satisfy anyone looking for a bit of stalk and slash. High Octane Pictures will release it on VOD on September 15th. DVD and Blu-ray will be available on November 10th. You can check the film’s Facebook page for more information.

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