Merrick wishes Jacko would stop caressing his skull like that...
Massawyrm sent in one last review from the madness of SXSW 2006 - THE LOST, based on a novel by Jack Ketchum.
Sounds like it could be a truly chilling example of “emotional, uncomfortable filmmaking” (Massawyrm’s words).
Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Massa use the term “asshat” before. In fact, I've never seen the term deployed as widely as it’s used on AICN’s Talkbacks. It’s really rather spectacular. We should make it the official AICN motto/slogan, and print it on some T-shirts…or something. "Asshat!"
Hola all. Massawyrm here. While as of late I’ve become known as the guy around here that sees the films others won’t, longtime readers know of my deep, unbridled passion for indies. Not just the indiewood indies (films peppered with A and B list stars, financed with modest budgets by easily recognizable production companies) but the true down in the dirt indies. Undistributed independent labors of love directed by and starring names that even the most astute and avid of movie watchers don’t recognize. Films so outside the system that in order to succeed, they have to tell us the stories Hollywood won’t or can’t. The problem, of course, is that sometimes you have to swim through seas of shit to come up with a solid gold nugget. Well thankfully, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I was introduced to just such a nugget this weekend. A little psycho-sexual drama/horror film called “The Lost.”
The Lost is directly adapted from the Jack Ketchum novel of the same name and follows world class shitheel Ray Pye, a small town loser suffering from little man syndrome in a big way. Ray wants to be cool, he wants to be respected. But in truth, he’s just another drunken asshole who will fuck anything that moves and keeps around only the friends he can bully. And Ray has finally discovered the secret to power. Killing.
Now unlike other films of it’s ilk – this isn’t by any stretch of the imagination a serial killer movie. It’s not Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or Red Dragon – it’s not about a super villain serial killer, nor is it trying to reconcile what it is that makes a man a killer. Ray Pye’s life isn’t bad. He wasn’t abused, he’s something of a rockstar to the women of his small town (most of whom he proudly boasts that he’s either fucked or will fuck eventually) and he’s got a steady supply of drugs and booze to facilitate his party all the time lifestyle. Really, he has little to complain about. He’s just an asshole. And The Lost never makes any apologies for that. Rather, the power and sympathy of the piece centers upon the people in Ray’s life – from the cops who know what he’s capable of to his best and very abused friend to the women caught in the charismatic black hole that is Ray Pye. And you watch, knowing full well that while at any moment Ray is going to snap, you don’t give a shit what happens to him. But you’re entirely concerned with what he’s going to do to everyone around him.
The Lost is first and foremost a character piece, detailing the lives of Ray and the six main characters caught up with him. Director Chris Sivertson and producer Lucky McKee assembled a fine cast of relative unknowns to front the piece, with Marc Senter really stealing the show as Ray. This guy nails the role so well that you simply want to pull him off of the screen and beat the living shit out of him. He’s a punk, a real asshat. The kind of guy that used to kick your ass in high school and now works managing the carwash down the street. And Senter sells every second of it. This is one of those guys I’m going to keep my eye on. With a few high profile roles, this guy could really make a name for himself.
Backing him up is a bevy of beautiful and competent actresses who all perfectly fall into their roles as the various women (both willing and unwilling) in Ray’s life, most notably Shay Astar, whose performance as Ray’s battered but unconditionally loving girlfriend rips your heart out and lets it bleed in your lap. And to top it off, there are a handful of seasoned character actors like Michael Bowen (Buck from Kill Bill vol. 1) and Ed Lauter (veteran of some billion and six films and one of those great character actors you recognize instantly) who add a touch of old school class as the cops who just can’t nail Ray.
The Lost is unrelenting - a vicious, abrasive film that begins with an unforgiving sucker punch of an opening, then evolves like a slow motion train wreck that you just can’t take your eyes off of. You sit there, hand clenched over your mouth, praying that no one gets hurt – but knowing full well that someone will, you become anxious about just who it will be. This is not a film for anyone looking for standard by the numbers horror. There are zero jump scares and it’s by no stretch of the imagination a fun movie. It tells you exactly where it’s going every step of the way and then delivers with an unhinged third act riddled with raw, realistic brutality more akin to a 70’s crime film than it is most modern horror. Gritty, more true to life than most would like to admit and ultimately fearless, The Lost is a film for anyone who enjoys emotional, uncomfortable filmmaking.
While the “Just tell me, are there tits and blood?” crowd will certainly find themselves sated (there is plenty to be found of both sides of that equation), The Lost aims at disturbing its audience rather than titillating it. While there are several scenes likely to turn you on, Director Sievertson seems bound and determined to keep either from seeming either glorified or gratuitous. Every act of violence, every sexual act, further defines each character in the film and gets us to the core of who they are. And in that way, it’s not a film to “get off” to. Rather, it’s a film that fucks with you and in the end, when all is said and done, doesn’t let you get turned on or excited by either for very long.
I hesitate to call this horror, because it’s not trying to scare you – it’s not trying to creep you out. It’s trying to disturb you, trying to show you the seedy underbelly of the violence of the world we live in. And I strongly feel that it accomplishes this goal with panache.
But ultimately, this film proves to be a love letter to the fiction it’s based upon. With a simple title card at the end of the credits, Sivertson displays his adoration of the material. It reads simply: If you liked this movie, read the book. If you hated this movie, read the book. And sure enough, at the end of the Screening, Sievertson was there, handing out complimentary copies of the novel. And the guy definitely earned a few more points with me for that kind of dedication. It’s a really good movie and definitely worth a look by anyone who’s a fan of this kind of filmmaking. Highly recommended for fans of films like May or the more brutal horror/crime films of the 70’s.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em. I know I will.
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