#31in31 2019 – “Johnny Frank Garrett’s Last Word”


Story: Seventeen-year-old Johnny Frank Garrett is convicted for the rape and murder of a nun. But he swears to his dying day – the day of his execution – he was innocent, and curses all involved. After his death, people who had a hand in his death begin dying…

Scares: Lots of chills, and a few shocks.

Splat factor: Some blood, and strange mutilations seen in dream sequences and hallucinations.

Closing scene “shocker”?: Nope. You’ll see it a mile away.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?: Based on the documentary The Last Word, about the execution of Johnny Frank Garrett, a real-life individual convicted of murder who may well have been innocent, and a curse many swear affected several people after Gartett’s execution.

Trick or Treat?: Let’s get one thing straight; while Word takes Garrett’s story and those subsequent deaths as a template, this film by no means tries to tell a true story. This is chills and thrills, not docudrama. And as a chiller, it’s effective.

The film’s plot unfolds as a mystery, as Adam Redman, the one lone uncertain juror – who was strong armed into “wrapping things up” – investigates dirty dealings behind the scenes of Garrett’s trial. Though why he doesn’t just go straight to the Southern Poverty Law Center and ACLU when he finds the truth is beyond me…

The director dials everything up to eleven, making everything Very Unusual And Important, so there’s no way anyone but the most naive could take this film as anything but a midnight nasty. The non-diagetic (not a part of the story, only a soundtrack) music can get overwrought and overloud, but sadly doesn’t serve the story and ends up bombast for its own sake.

But the excellent performances override the histrionics, and there’s some very good death scenes as one by one people start dying. The editing could be tightened up a bit and I’d have liked more about what was going on with the victims, but at ninety minutes there’s little room for that.

Still, even with all that (and an ending cribs from The Fog), this film has just enough of a cool spin on the true-horror genre that horrorhounds should check out.

Stay for the end credits if you want to hear an actor emote the letter the real Garrett wrote, or clicky the film’s FB post and read it yourself.

Score: 3 out of 5 pumpkins.

About Denise

Professional nerd. Lover of licorice.
This entry was posted in 31 in 31, In Horror, Movie Reviews and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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