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'THE LAST STOP IN YUMA COUNTY' REVIEW

BY BECCA JOHNSON APRIL 30, 2024
The Last Stop in Yuma County

It hit our news feeds recently that director Francis Galluppi is one of two directors soon to helm an Evil Dead spin-off. Labelled as a ‘storyteller who knows when to keep us waiting in simmering tension’ by Father of the franchise Sam Raimi himself when talking to Deadline, it seems he may have something exciting to offer the fan-favourite horror series. His new flick, a single location crime thriller, happens to be his feature debut. With a swift run-time, an engaging storyline and terrific performances, The Last Stop in Yuma County puts Galluppi on the map as a filmmaker to keep an eye on.


SYNOPSIS

Stranded at an Arizona rest stop, a traveling knife salesman gets thrust into a high-stakes hostage situation by the arrival of two bank robbers who will stop at nothing to protect their ill-begotten fortune.



REVIEW

Spearheading the movie in what appears to be the leading role is Jim Cummings as The Knife Salesman, the first character to enter the diner and wait for the next fuel truck. It’s a more reserved performance than we are used to seeing from Cummings, but he is certainly great and gets to come into his own as the run-time progresses. In the role of Charlotte, waitress at the diner is Jocelin Donahue, who is equally good. Her character makes smart choices and is worth rooting for. In the role of the gun-wielding villain is Richard Brake, who is magnetic and steals every scene he is in. As soon as he enters the diner, the tone shifts, all eyes are on him and the tension begins to build. Changing the trajectory of the story and adding high stakes, Brake’s performance is able to stand out amongst the rest. He is excellent at playing unhinged villains, and The Last Stop in Yuma County can be added to his ever-growing list of eerie villainous performances. The supporting cast is also made up of Nicholas Logan, Faizon Love, Robin Bartlett and even horror royalty Barbara Crampton - they all deliver. It’s a true ensemble cast.


Many will be watching for the filmmaking, in attempt to see what Director and Writer Galluppi can do - it doesn’t disappoint here, either. As soon as you land in its Arizona desert setting, it’s incredibly immersive with orange tones aplenty and a sticky, sweaty environment. Attention is paid to showcasing the location, which allows for some eye-catching cinematography to pull through. The setting of the diner itself may not sound interesting on paper, but the set design is wonderful and the whole space is utilised. As we follow our characters round the diner and the seats begin to fill up, the isolation and claustrophobia certainly adds to the tension. The film has a few needle drops filtered throughout which all work well, fitting the tone nicely and giving it a pop of energy that helps it lift off the screen. The technical elements on display here make for an excellent viewing experience, providing all that’s needed for a successful western/crime thriller hybrid. It sounds good and looks even better.


The Last Stop in Yuma County

The story itself is quite formulaic; Brake’s character Beau and his accomplice Travis have robbed a bank and stolen a bunch of money, which they must protect at all costs. It’s intriguing enough, but is not unlike something we’ve seen before. Luckily, some extra twists and turns and thorough exploration of its themes turns this story from good to great. As new characters enter the diner, new plot beats are revealed and the stakes increase, the story often goes places you won’t see coming, keeping its audience on their toes. There is enough action by the end to appease its slow, dialogue-driven approach, and at just 90-minutes long, it never overstays its welcome. At the centre of the story is the money Beau and Travis have stolen, which invites some intriguing exploration into morality and how far some will go to get their hands on it. There is also some light humour injected into the script, which makes for an overall fun time. Despite its standard sounding plot, it feels quirky and original.


The Last Stop in Yuma County is a masterclass in tension-building, succeeding in its attempts to shine as a western, a crime drama and a single-location thriller. The performances from Brake, Cummings and Donahue are exceptional, the script gives enough development in plot and themes to keep you invested and the setting makes for an immersive, intense experience. One of this years most surprising entries, it’s not one to let fly under the radar.


STAR RATING

Rating When Evil Lurks

The Last Stop in Yuma County releases in US cinemas May 10



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