Now’s that‘s a promising horror film poster!
Lost After Dark, Anchor Bay, 2014.
Lost After Dark is the latest in a movement of films that try to bring back 80’s horror to the masses. Whether that ever happens or not, I give them credit for trying and for giving starving fans of Slasher flicks something to feed on. They really put an effort to get the 80’s feel right with the music, the clothing and the hair. Rubik Cube, Crimped hair, rotary phone -all along with a lengthy shot of a picture of Ronald Reagan in one of the houses -got a good chuckle out of me. Director Ian Kessner obviously knew what he was doing.
It plays out just like your average slasher movie. The retro factor is ever present it’s not just in the way it looks, it’s also the way it feels while viewing. Lost After Dark understands that retro lies not just in the details but also in the setting, the appearance and visuals of a collective era. If no one told you it wasn’t made in the 1980’s you might never see the difference or that it’s not 1985. The presentation, the effects, the gore and visuals are all part of your usual slasher flick experience, no better, no worse. They wanted to isolate you in this place where it feels just like vintage horror. While the movie doesn’t always succeed at all it’s attempting, it manages to take you back to the past rather efficiently.
The film is set in 1984 and l must admit it does feel like it. I had my doubts but it kept feeling more and more 80’s as it went on (although l don’t remember rap being popular). It goes like this : A group high school friends decide to ditch on the prom and go to a cabin instead. They steal a high school bus and are well on their way, until it breaks down. They find a presumingly abandoned house and seek refuge. Some horrific discoveries (think Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and a few urban legends later the madness begins.
I want to point out the horror movie cliché stereotypes are all here (wouldn’t we miss them?): Virgin girl, tough rebel girl, other girl, nice likeable jock, the power couple, scared black guy and fat guy who never scores with the girl. I can imagine a certain amount of attention (and countless hours spent watching, or rather studying horror films) to details went into creating these characters as the director is clearly a knowledgeable fan of horror and particularly 80’s slasher films. Oh and the villain looks just like Rob Zombie, am I the only one who noticed?
“I got what I was promised here, it would have been a mistake on my part to expect anything more.”
It was fun to watch these characters and the unfolding events and reminisce about “oh she reminds me of…” and “this is kinda like…”. There’s definitely some influences that can be felt in Lost After Dark. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Friday The 13th being the most obvious ones. Even a little comedy at the expense of A Nightmare On Elm Street.
The kills are satisfying. One scene in particular involves a knife and an eye and … Well you can probably figure out the rest for yourself. And then there’s your typical “insert weapon of choice” gruesome kill; visual and bloody. Nothing that involves too much gore or anything that has to do with today’s “Torture Porn”.
What’s remarkable -at least from the horror spectrum- is the ones who survive or in for the long haul are not those you’d ever think of by a long stretch. It seems to throw some notion of horror “rules” away and does what you don’t expect it to.This is a blatant attempt to mess with your mind. You see some of it coming, but the movie throws some curves here and there. Earlier in the film there seemed to be emphasis on one of the girls and you think she might end up being a heroine (a Nancy or a Tina in Slasher jargon) , only to be one of the first victims. The characters are killed in reverse order. How’s that for a slasher?
“It’s fun, gory in that Tom Savini way and pays homage the 80’s respectfully.”
In the end, l do believe the intention with Lost After Dark was for it to feel like your typical 80’s horror flick and a mindless Slasher-fest. Either that or it attempted to be a great long-lost movie that you’ve never heard of. The movie poster would lead you to draw similar conclusions with it’s “And you thought the 80’s were dead…” and “Retro 80’s horror done right” quotes.
It’s not unbelievably great horror, but it’s exactly what it promised to be and it delivers. I got what I was promised here, it would have been a mistake on my part to expect anything more. It’s fun and gory in that Tom Savini way and pays homage the 80’s respectfully. If you’re expecting anything other than a homage or a vintage feel, it’s all on you. A lot of other movies attempted to do this type of thing but Lost After Dark is the real deal. You’ve seen similar movies for sure, and that’s exactly the point. Was it that great? No, but that never prevents a fan of slashers to enjoy them. Enjoy the ride and the flashbacks. Oh and the 80’s called they want their 80’s back. 7.5/10 stars.