Director Maxi Contenti talks ‘The Last Matinee’

Uruguayan slasher The Last Matinee, is easily one of the best stalk and slash features of the past five years.

We got the chance to quiz director Maxi Contenti all about the film plus his hopes for a sequel…

Can you tell us where the concept of The Last Matinee came from?
Years ago I was shooting a commercial in the cinema theater where we shot the movie, and got inspired by the location.
The movie idea came from the cinema itself.

I take it you had a love of the slasher film while writing the film?

Yes, as soon as I had the idea for the movie, I knew it was going to be a slasher.
As a kid I started watching horror with the 80s slashers, mostly Jason from Friday the 13th. The movie also takes a giallo “scent” and stylistic mood. Lamberto Bava’s Demoni was a reference point. So its a marriage of Slasher and Giallo. Also it takes a lot of cues from 90s slashers like “Urban Legend” or “I know what you did last summer”.

The eye fascination of the killer is interesting, does this link to the eyes being the window to the soul, is the killer trying to take part of his victims souls?

That’s a really keen observation, and probably something to explore further…

Did it surprise you that there hadn’t been too many horror films set in cinemas?

I was actually surprised to find many I had not seen. Like Bigas Luna’s “Anguish”. I saw that one on early preproduction, with the script already fully written. I knew Bigas Lunas filmography, but not that movie! I loved Anguish, and was amazed by its unconscious connections. Horror films set in cinemas or with scenes in cinemas are a perfect combination

What was your favourite set piece to put together?

The “projection booth confrontation” scene for sure, that was my favourite and the beating heart of the film. And the hardest was the “burned film” sequence, which was an editing puzzle.

One of the most interesting aspects of The Last Matinee is the diversity of characters and arcs, how important was this during the writing to reflect this?

I was thinking of having these very classical, archetypal characters going to the movies. Everyone is on their own in a way and it’s like each has their own story. From the writing, it was important to represent a sort of universal trade of characters that you encounter at the cinema, or at least back at this era of cinema.

What was the process like with Benjamin Silva to construct the look of the film?

With Benjamin we are friends and colleagues, we worked together before. So we worked very close. Did a bit of testing, finding the look and the lenses, but mostly talking and looking around for references. He totally got me, almost telepathically. And he pushed those visuals and colours, even more, I was actually a bit hesitant in a few choices at first, to be so colourful. I’m glad I went along at the end.

Hernan Gonzalez’ score is fantastic too, tell us about working with him?

When I started collaborating with Hernan Gonzalez on the original score (we also worked together before), I gave him my notes and references, we talked a lot about different scenes. I had melodies in mind and I wanted to make the music a narrative force from start to finish. Then I left him to work on his own thing. Needles to say, he read me like a book. Hernan brought some great score pieces I never imagined, also there are specific character scores that completely uplift the film. It’s a nostalgic synth-wave sound but in a modernized approach, I couldn’t ask for a better vision of the score.

While the conclusion of The Last Matinee was pretty definitive, do you have plans to revisit the slasher film in the future?

DEFINITIVE?… Real horror never dies. I remember seeing Jason being blown up years ago…and he’s still VERY much around. I love slashers of course, I’ll revisit the genre for sure. And I do have the story for The Last Matinee sequel in the works…

The film has also had worldwide praise, which must be encouraging for you?

Yes. I have felt the reception (through the internet mostly like everything today). I can feel the movie is connecting worldwide. I read a lot of the general audience positive critics. I’m very critical of my work, so I was surprised to find myself happy about the end result of this film .

What’s next for Maxi Contenti?

I have several projects in different stages of development. Over time I learned that its a good move not to put all your eggs in one basket.
Of horror I always have something, also drama-comedy and documentary. I’m in post-production of a musical documentary “Hot Club of Montevideo”, about the oldest jazz club in Latinoamerica (70 years old), it comes out this year.
I’m also up for challenges and to get hired for work in the industry, I’ll love that, I’m developing things in that área but I can’t say much about it yet.
And like I said …ComeOjos: The Last Matinee part II… is in the works.

The Last Matinee is now available from Arrow Video.

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