Editor’s Note: I’ve asked BrianK to explore the arid wasteland of Netflix’ Watch Instantly section once a week in search of lost treasures, the only important rule being his find cannot be a film anyone has ever told him anything about. These are his results.
It isn’t all crimson and clovers, however. Shortly after their meet, Ray coldly decides to kill the girl and her friend with the reluctant help of his delinquent associates, Jennifer (Shay Astar) and Tim (Alex Frost). When the story picks up again four years later, the case remains unsolved, Jennifer and Tim are attempting to deal with their guilt, and Ray is constantly trying to get laid. As you probably guessed, Ray has decidedly mixed results with women, and it is this quality that serves as the driving force for the remainder of the film.
Other than wearing copious amounts of eyeliner, Ray dresses just like a greaser. It is actually difficult to determine the story does not take place in the 1950s for the first several minutes (as you might imagine, the naked girl isn’t much help in pin-pointing a time period). In fact, other than a few stylistic flourishes (e.g. random shots in 8mm), THE LOST has that bright yet washed-out nostalgic feel of many actual mid-century throwbacks, such as another Ketchum adaptation, THE GIRL NEXT DOOR (2007).
The decade/style conflict isn’t the only inconsistency in the THE LOST. The actors’ performances elicit reactions ranging from “Oh my…what is going on here? This is kind of awesome” (Senter) to “Wake me up when this idiot stops talking” (mostly everybody else). Other than Shay Astar, as Ray’s unappreciated live-in girlfriend, the female performances are uniformly unimpressive. But in their defense they aren’t given much to work with; there are only so many ways a woman can be fucked or threatened or battered by our friend Ray.
Speaking of Ray; Senter plays him as a constantly revolving amalgamation of Crispin Glover in RIVER’S EDGE, Tom Cruise in MAGNOLIA, Christian Bale in AMERICAN PSYCHO, and Jared Leto in all those things Jared Leto wears eyeliner in. At times the blatant impersonations can be a bit grating, but Senter is nothing if not entertaining in the role. One standout scene involves Ray being interviewed by a cop (played by the great Michael Bowen) investigating the murder of the outhouse girls – there is a great back-and-forth between the two, and Senter gives one of those performances that make you marvel at how great an actor the character is (see also: Ray Winstone, restaurant scene, SEXY BEAST).
As the movie progresses, Ray becomes more unhinged (which is saying quite a bit considering the frame of reference), and when he is rebuffed by a girl he truly likes he finally tumbles off the edge. There is a lull in the “action” after the opening scene, but when Ray decides to get his woman-hating revenge on, he does it in style. I won’t give anything away, but the climax is ferocious and the final ten minutes honestly disturbed me. The remake of THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT should have taken a cue from the very last shot, which comes as a much needed catharsis.
All in all, I couldn’t help but like THE LOST, even if only for Marc Senter’s presence. He’s undeniably strange, and if there ever could be another Crispin Glover, he’s it. The fact his character is such an unrepentant piece of garbage and and he still manages to elicit a degree of sympathy is a testament to both the actor and the writing. Even though nothing about the story is particularly original, it does manage to explore certain aspects of a psychopath’s personality I haven’t seen before. I guess this is my way of saying THE LOST is a decent character study complimented by an interesting actor and a few disturbing bits of the ol’ ultraviolence.
Note: THE LOST doesn’t announce whether it is based on a true story (which THE GIRL NEXT DOOR evidently is), but for the sake of humanity, I hope it isn’t. On the other hand, for the sake of Jack Ketchum’s conscience, I hope it is. I have never read a Ketchum novel, but having now seen two films based on his works I can confirm he lives in a dark place.