Lost After Dark, 2015.
Directed by Ian Kessner.
Starring Sarah Fisher, Mark Wiebe, Jesse Camacho, Robert Patrick, David Lipper and Kendra Leigh Timmins.
A group of partying teenagers are stalked by a cannibalistic killer after they sneak out from their high school dance.
When several filmmakers tried to recreate the 1970s a few years back the results were pretty good, with films like Machete, Death Proof, The Devil’s Rejects and Black Dynamite all hitting their targets and paying loving homage to the decade. The 1980s, however, have proven to be a little trickier to recreate successfully; there has been the odd glimmer of greatness – last year’s Turbo Kid proving that it’s the little details that create the most nostalgia – but on the whole it seems that the ‘80s is a decade best left 30 years in the past.
But it won’t be and filmmakers are insistent on trying to recreate the magic of those old movies that we grew up with, and the slasher movie is the one style that you think would be the easiest to recreate as there really wasn’t that much too them – all you need is a killer with a specific weapon and/or a mask, teenage kids on a sex-&-drugs-fuelled frenzy and a high gore content, right? The trouble is those films were made a long time ago when audiences weren’t so savvy to convention and filmmakers were making the best of the budgets and facilities available to them rather than trying to recreate a cheap-and-cheerful VHS horror movie rental.
And now we have Lost After Dark to add to the growing list of retro-slashers that have crept onto DVD over the past couple of years. On the surface there is a lot to like about Lost After Dark as it certainly looks the part, the main cast of characters dressing like it was 1984 and the rest of the props and vehicles looking appropriately retro. However, this is the 21st century and dressing somebody up in brightly coloured leggings and sticking a Ronald Reagan picture on the wall doesn’t make it feel like 1984 anymore than just putting the year on the screen does, because Lost After Dark, like 99% of the other retro-slashers out there, is all style and very little, if any, substance.
The setup is one that is very familiar, as a group of high school kids – a group that happens to contain every stereotype you could want in a group of high school kids – steal a bus from their school on the night of the school dance so they can spend some time indulging in the usual frolics that teenagers in the ‘80s seemed to do. Naturally the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere and the kids seek shelter in what they think is an abandoned farmhouse, but it turns out that the building is home to a cannibalistic killer believed to be dead, and he’s not fond of trespassers…
So nothing new there and, as previously stated, the film does look the part but trying to redo something so long after the event lends everything the air of parody rather than authenticity and because that authenticity isn’t there Lost After Dark is, at best, just another generic slasher. To be fair, the kills aren’t bad and somebody has obviously studied the Friday the 13th films for a few ideas but the digital look of the film and the CGI blood – especially during an eye-gouging scene that is an obvious nod to Lucio Fulci – don’t do the film any favours. Add to that a cast of actors who don’t do anything with the pretty poor script and a killer who looks like Rob Zombie had he been in Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes Part II and Lost After Dark is something of a slog to get through, despite only being 81 minutes long. The appearance of Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) as the ‘Nam veteran assistant principal adds a bit of a Mr. Strickland vibe that could have been developed a little more to inject a bit of fun but Patrick is severely underused and the character very one-note, making his inclusion feel like a bit of a waste.
Ironically, the flaws that plague Lost After Dark are the most authentically ‘80s thing about it as most of those films also suffered from bad pacing, crap acting and not a lot of plot but they also had a charm about them, like they were the best that everyone involved could do at the time with what they had. While this may also be true of Lost After Dark, it also feels soulless, slightly cynical and a wasted opportunity to try and tap into something that many people still feel a great fondness for. It isn’t the worst slasher movie you’ll ever see but it falls far short of even being an average one and that’s hardly anything to get excited about, is it?
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★