Lost After Dark – Review
For horror fans who enjoy fun, a little comedy and a bit of T&A with their gore, it doesn’t get much better than 80’s slasher films. While there are no doubt more sophisticated and overall “better” horror films, none of them produced iconic legends such as Jason, Freddy and Pinhead that this era of film making has. Despite these franchises continuing into the modern day, they seldom have the same charisma of their 80’s born predecessors. Director Ian Kessner felt the same way, and decided to recapture that era as closely as possible with Lost After Dark. While it may not hold up against the classic films that inspire it, Lost After Dark is still a very enjoyable horror film and emulates the source era so well that horror fans could easily add it to their “80’s horror” movie night.
As any 80’s horror film should, Lost After Dark has a very simple plot and premise. A group of teenagers on Prom night decide to sneak out of the dance, hijack a school bus and head to the vacation cabin of the “good girl trying to be bad” Adrienne (Kendra Timmins). All is going to plan until the bus runs out of gas (of course) and the teens are forced to take refuge in a nearby abandoned home. They soon learn they aren’t alone (of course) and come face to face with Junior Joad, a cannibalistic killer thought to only be a legend.
Even though the plot events are very stereotypical of the genre, Lost After Dark does do a good job of taking its time in the beginning of the film to establish the characters, and allow the viewer to actually care about some of these teens before they are slaughtered. While it’s always a risky proposition to start a horror movie slow, Kessner is able to tell a narrative that at least gets some type of emotional investment in a few of the characters before setting the stage for their brutal deaths. This is due to the young cast providing a surprisingly good performance to make you believe that these kids actually know and care for one another. The true standout performance however doesn’t belong to one of the teens, but instead to Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The X-Files) as Vice Principal Cunningham. Robert provides an over the top performance as a Vietnam veteran turned principal that runs his students like soldiers. When “the turds go AWOL”, he jumps in his hot rod and chases after the them providing an enjoyable performance along the way.
Moving on to the real star of the show – the kills and gore – they are thankfully done with prosthetics and old school effects to coincide with the era they are trying to emulate; no CGI here (except for one death). Unfortunately, the kills themselves are uneven. Some kills are very intense and look fantastic, such as kid who gets his torso turned by an industrial long handled corkscrew, while others are just direct and quick deaths such as a pick axe to the gut. Overall, the kills are enjoyable as even the lackluster ones are still staged with a decent amount of suspense and execution; a result of the director’s skills and respect for the genre.
While it may not be a new classic of the genre, Lost After Dark has its heart in the right place. It is able to stand out in a crowded sub genre as one of the better recent slasher films and hopefully it is not the last that we’ve seen from Ian Kessner or this series.
- + Entertaining and likable characters
- + Great emulation of the genre and era
- – Some kills are lackluster