Frightfest Glasgow: Last Straw (2024)

Director: Alan Scott Neal

Running Time: 82 Minutes

Starring: Jessica Belkin, Jeremy Sisto, Taylor Kowalski, Tara Raani, Joji Otani-Hansen

For his feature debut, director Alan Scott Neal opens Last Straw on quite the startling image within a diner. As bodies lay on the floor while blood is seen all around, this horrific aftermath hints at a nightmarish event which unfolded beforehand. The scene then cuts to twenty-four-hours earlier, as young waitress Nancy (Jessica Belkin) discovers that she is pregnant. While discussing the situation with her best-friend, uncertainty lurks in Nancy's voice as she denies knowing the father's identity while being unsure of her next steps.

Her day worsens due to her car breaking down, which results in Nancy arriving late to work. She then receives unwelcome news that she has to cover the late shift with Jake (Taylor Kowalski), a coworker who makes her feel uncomfortable. While she may be a manager at the diner, other employees question whether she received the role due to their boss being Nancy's dad (Jeremy Sisto). As pressure mounts across the shift, including the arrival of an abusive group who threaten to return, Nancy ends up firing Jake. This leaves her working the late shift alone, although the nightmare is just beginning when masked figures on mopeds begin tormenting her, resulting in a fight for survival.

Where Taylor Sardoni's screenplay works best is when it offers a chance to know the people within this horrific scenario. Nancy is introduced as a partygoer who wishes to visit graduation parties despite finishing school a year prior, although it becomes clear that she feels lost and unfulfilled with life. Things have not turned out how she thought they would, and Belkin effectively conveys the character's bubbling rage at feeling stuck while everyone else is moving on. While she may unsure about what path she should take, her dad has faith that she can handle whatever issues come her way, and that becomes a sentiment that Nancy eventually shares.

When it comes to the aggressors, an interesting turn arrives which takes the unfolding story in a curious direction. A light is cast upon the figures while highlighting how dangerous the ringleader is, particularly during a moment when the anger is let out, although the inclusion of a tragic backstory feels clumsily handled. As an invasion tale unfolds within the confined diner location, thrilling moments are on show, yet the tension feels sadly out of reach. Part of the reason is due to the opening unnecessarily giving out-of-context spoilers in an attempt to hook viewers' attention, while some sequences sadly feel unremarkable. Last Straw is an invasion flick which offers a promising start to filmmaking careers.

Last Straw made its UK Premiere at Frightfest Glasgow 2024