THE LOST – a low-budget independent film that has been figuratively lost in distribution limbo since its completion in 2005 – finally finds its way into the Laemmle’s Sunset 5 Theatre in West Hollywood, California, for a one-week run starting today. Based on a book by Jack Ketchum, who is listed as one of the executive producers, this blood-stained, melodramatic thrill-killer thriller is a character study of a hot-headed loser who gets away with murder in the prologue, then goes about his life for the next two hours of screen time, before erupting into a homicidal rampage for the final act. That’s an awful lot of down time, but gore-hungry viewers may find their patience rewarded and their thirst slaked when the blood finally starts to flow. Fans looking for a decent thriller or a frightening fear flick had best look elsewhere.
Unpleasant but initially engrossing, the film overstays its welcome, going from engrossing to simply gross. The script, adapted by producer-director Chris Sivertson (who has since inflicted the Razzie-winning I KNOW WHO KILLED ME, starring Lindsay Lohan, on an unsuspecting public) seems to have retained too many subplots from the book, creating a muddled narrative lacking in focus. The highlight is the genuinely creepy performance by Marc Senter as Ray Pye, who shoots a couple of women in the woods in the opening scene; the rest of the film takes place four years later, involving his girlfriend, his best friend, a police detective still seeking to solve the unsolved murder, a new girl he meets at work (who happens to be having an affair with the detective’s ex partner), and another new girl with whom he has a brief affair while trying to hold onto his girlfriend while trying to launch another affair with the girl at work while trying to evade the questions from the police while…while…while…
With its excess of characters and plot threads, the movie plays like a soap opera until Ray finally goes nuts in the last five minutes and starts shooting everyone. The conclusion is perhaps violent enough to qualify as horror, but up to that point, the film’s inclusion in the genre is doubtful at best. The movie does evoke PSYCHO (Ray works at a motel presided over by his domineering mother, and he jokingly answers the phone by saying, “Bates Motel”), but Ray is simply not as interesting a figure as Norman Bates, and as good as Senter’s performance is, he’s still just a skinny punk.
The film goes out of its way to characterize Ray as a little punk who wants to be bigger than he is, informing us (via a subtitle at the beginning) that he puts crushed beer cans in his shoes to make himself look taller. As if this were not enough, a later scene underlines Ray’s essential wimpiness when he converses with a convicted felon at a drug party. The cold, dead eyes and killer stare of the real hardened criminal exposes Ray as a mere poser who’s only threatening with a gun in his hand, and when he gets around to using it, you have to wonder why none of the characters simply kicks him in the balls and bitch-slaps him into a crying, little whiny ball of jello.
The movie does get under your skin (“disturbing” was the word heard on the way out of the screening at the 2006 Screamfest festival), but the most disturbing thing about it is that it plays like a sick loser’s psycho power-trip fantasy: although Ray’s an obvious creep, beautiful women find him attractive, and the film can’t get enough of showing them take off their clothes for him.
THE LOST probably won’t be coming to a theatre near you any time soon; the Laemmle’s engagement (which features an in-theatre appearance by Senter and Sivertson after the 7:00pm screening tonight) is simply a platform release to pump up some interest in the DVD. Thanks to Senter, the film has just enough going for it to appeal to the more twisted terror tastes whenever it finds its way to home video on March 18.
THE LOST(2005). Written and directed by Chris Sivertson, from the novel by Jack Ketchum. Cast: Marc Senter, Shay Astar, Alex Frost, Megan Henning, Robin Sydney, Eddie Steeples, Michael Bowen, Dee Wallace-Stone, Ed Lauther.
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