by Shannon McGrew
DCP reviews Last Shift and talks to Natalie Victoria and Anthony DiBlasi
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of having coffee with Anthony DiBlasi, director of the newly released horror film, "Last Shift, and actress Natalie Victoria (who plays Marigold in "Last Shift). It was one of the most enjoyable interviews I've done and I was able to get a glimpse into the mind of a horror director as well as learn what it's like to be an actress in the horror genre.
DCP: Anthony, you are from Boston and Natalie you are from Chicago, what brought you both out here?
AD & NV: Movies. We came separate we didn't know eachother prior.
DCP: Now you are engaged! And Natalie you were just in his movie!
DCP: How was it working together?
AD: We loved it. Natalie was nervous about it.
NV: Well we had met before [Last Shift] - we had met at the Screamfest afterparty. I wasn't sure if I wanted to work together because I didn't want to mix business with personal. Anthony was insistent about it.
AD: I wrote a part for her so she had to do it.
NV: It ended up being awesome! Honestly, we want to work together again. He's an actor's director for sure. He's really good at pulling out performances from actors.
DCP: Anthony, what got you into wanting to direct horror movies?
AD: I went to film school in Boston at Emerson College. One of the main reasons I went to Emerson was because they had a LA program, so I knew I could finish my last semester in LA. While I was in my last semester I had to do an internship. At the time I was interning with Marvel and I had extra time on my hands, so I called my advisor and told him I would really like to get into horror. My advisor gave me a list of people in the horror business, such as Wes Craven, John Carpenter, and Clive Barker. One of Clive Barker's producers went to Emerson for about a year and was from Boston so that was my in. I called him and was like hey, I'm looking for an extra internship do you need any help and he was like I don't know I don't know. I just kept bugging him and finally he was like okay why don't you come in and meet with all of us. I met with Clive at his house and we just got along really well. We had a lot in common and he hired me and I ended up working for Clive for 10 years.
DCP: Natalie, as an actress, have you always wanted to be in horror movies?
NV: I've always wanted to just be an actress and make movies. When I first came out here I wanted to learn the process of movie making because eventually I would like to produce and do more. For the first year I was out here I did every independent movie I could do so I could learn the ropes. The first film that I got casted in as a lead was "Dead Heads" and it just happened to be in that horror genre with zombies and I love zombies. So that's how I got welcomed into the Horror Community. I like horror, but there are certain types of subgenres of horror that I don't like. I like monsters movies, so like Alien, Aliens, I could watch those an infinite amount of time. You can ask Anthony, he's like "Oh my God again!?" Or John Carpenters, "The Thing" I can watch an endless amount of times. I like the Sci-Fi horror genre. The Torture Porn I'm not as much into, the slasher flicks it's got to be really good. I just saw Halloween for the first time only a few years ago and I was like this is good, this is amazing!
AD: On the flip side of that, I made her watch Halloween III last night and she was not amused.
NV: I like horror movies that have more of an intellectual meaning underneath them that make you think. Anthony didn't think I liked his first movie, "DREAD," because I didn't talk to him about it for like a day. I came back around and realized it upset me on such a deep level and it was so well done that it made me think and was like traumatizing. It brings up things and I was like this is really good.
DCP: Now that we have delved into what you both like about horror, how did you [Anthony] come up with the concept of "Last Shift."
AD: Honestly, the driving force behind "Last Shift" was I had made these two movies, "Cassadega" and "Missionary", with these guys in Florida. So I went to them and I was like listen, lets do a film with a tiny budget and lets see how much of movie we can make based off that, with the mindset that we are going to write it for a location. I wanted to do something that was based on sound design and very intimate scares. So I talked about having this dispatcher who is in a dispatch station alone and it transformed into a cop being in a police station. We were able to find an empty police station in Sanford FL, and once we found that location, we then wrote the script based on that location. It was this whole reversed engineered method of how we were doing this. We also grabbed a team of people we had developed relationships with from having done those two previous films with them.
DCP: What type of movies influence you when it comes to making horror films?
AD: Movies like "The Gift." I'm drawn to characters that are socially abnormal. For example, I love "Nightcrawler." I love stories where the rest of the world goes around in this daze of "Oh you think you can just get to know someone" or poke somebody's buttons and not realize that you may not know what you are getting into. People can be fucked up. I love that side of human nature.
DCP: Last Shift delves into the story of a cult. I have to say, cult movies always freak me out and make uncomfortable
AD: When we were writing "Last Shift" I wanted to inject it with this Manson era feel and the main character is certainly inspired by Manson. [While researching] I was looking for the best off the wall documentary about Manson, and there is a documentary that was released in 1973, which was right after the Tate murders, that I had never heard about. I tried to find this film but it was banned in the United States because it was made by people who were part of the Manson Family that lived on the ranch. I had to order it directly from the filmmakers who had a weird website, I mean I didn't know if I was ordering it from someone who was part of the Manson Family. They sent me the DVD in a weird box with my name on it. I ended up showing the documentary to the whole cast and crew.
DCP: I have to ask, are there any horror movies you can't watch?
AD: Nope, I'll watch everything. I'm unaffected emotionally by horror. My tolerance for things is very wide. Let's just say, I won't react to a scare. I love scaring people and setting up situations.
NZ: I scared him once and he was very upset about it. I caught him off guard. He jumped and flinched and I can never get him to do that!
AD: No no no, maybe I flinched maybe.
DCP: Halloween is approaching so do you two do anything to celebrate the holiday? Do you have a Halloween tradition?
AD: Adam Gierasch (Tales of Halloween) always has a Halloween party we go to. We get all dressed up.
NZ: We also go to a pumpkin patch that has a big corn maze that we have never been able to finish. These kids run by us and are like "WE'VE DONE THIS SIX TIMES!" and we are like "SHUT UP!"
AD: Being from the East Coast I like to try and find stuff that has that fall feel. There's this place called Oak Glen which has a huge pumpkin patch and the leaves change. They have this HUGE corn maze and it was also an obstacle course and we fucking sucked at it!
NZ: We had no excuse for not finishing that corn maze haha.
DCP: Corn mazes are harder than people think. With Last Shift now out, what do you two have coming down the pipeline in the future?
AD: I have a thriller coming out and I also did a slasher this past year with this company called Most Likely to Die, and Heather Morris from Glee is in it as well as Perez Hilton.
NV: I just like making movies period, as long as it's a good role. I would love to be in a big action movie, something like Jurassic World, Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone. I would love to do my own stunts. I also really like doing more complex roles, I did that in theatre and even with Anthony's role for The Last Shift.
DCP: Well we here at Dark Comedy Productions wish you two nothing but the best for your future endeavors. Last but not least, how long have you two been engaged and when is the wedding?
NV: We got engaged last year right at Thanksgiving, he proposed to me in front of my parents, and we are getting married next May. We actually just secured the venue!
DCP: That's terrific! I'm so happy for the both of you and I can't wait to see what is in store for you both in the future! I wanted to thank you both again for sitting down with me and letting me interview you. "Last Shift" is available on VOD as well as in select theaters and make sure to check out the Facebook page for "Last Shift."
Good horror movies are few and far between and sometimes it feels as though you are searching for the diamond in the rough. I feel as though I have found that diamond after watching "Last Shift" by director Anthony DiBlasi.
"Last Shift" tells the story of a rookie cop, played by Juliana Harkavy, who's first assignment is to keep watch overnight at closing police station. As the night progresses, weird occurrence take place, and soon it becomes apparent that there are other forces, much more malevolent, that haven't left this station. What is the cause of these supernatural happenings? What is the real story with the individuals that were last in this police station?
Not only is it difficult to find good and original horror movies, but it's even more difficult to have a good movie that relies on one character essentially pushing the movie along. Anthony DiBlasi nails it with his casting choices for "Last Shift." Juliana Harkavy, who plays the rookie cop Jessica Loren, has the most screen time and as the movie progresses you become more entangled with her character and her well being. I was hypnotized from the beginning and really felt like the character was believable and in danger. I kept wanting to help her only to realize that duh, this is a movie. Juliana Harkavy puts on an amazing performance from start to finish. Also, actress Natalie Victoria, who plays Marigold, was phenomenal. She wasn't on the screen for long but her character was played so well - you really feel for her and she left a lasting impression.
It's clear that DiBlasi knows what he's doing because he makes sure that the tension keeps building and building scene after scene. I was never bored during the film but on the edge of my seat through most of the movie. I actually watched this movie while in an airport and it was able to scare me even though it was broad daylight and there were people all around me.
I don't want to give too much away, but what I can say is this, go see this movie. Not only to support the indie horror scene but because it's a great movie. It has incredible acting, an amazing cast, and a scary premise. It's also not a remake or a reboot or a prequel and that in and of itself is a rarity. So grab yourself some popcorn, curl up under a blanket and rent "Last Shift" which is now available on VOD.