THE LOST (2006) Review. [Netflix Watch Instantly]

Posted by Brian Knowles - September 1st 2009 @ 2:21 pm

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.

Directed by Chris Sivertson, 2006
Written by Chris Sivertson from Jack Ketchum‘s novel

Make that two for two in terms of likable openings in films I have reviewed thus far for this series. THE LOST gets going energetically with a shot of the main character, Ray (Marc Senter), approaching an outhouse in the middle of woods, where he happens to find an attractive naked woman finishing up her business – all set to the tune of Crispian St. Peters’ absurdly catchy 1966 hit “The Pied Piper.” You had me at naked girl in outhouse and ‘60s pop.

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.

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  1. September 1st, 2009 | 3:11 pm | #1

    I give this movie a B+ on the strength of Senter’s performance alone.That dude CARRIED this film on his back. He had some really good back and forth in his date scene, where he tried to impress his new beau with his badassery and just looked like a child desperately trying to impress the adults. Any you’re right-those last 15 minutes are cringe worthy. If the movie didn’t start the way it did, it would have seemed out of place, but i think they did a nice job of letting the audience know this character would explode like an overgrown child throwing a tantrum if he was ever denied what he wanted.

    There’s another Ketchum movie available on watch now-“Red”. It’s much more understated (as is the book-a rarity for Ketchum) and has an excellent performance from Brian Cox. Plus, it’s in HD if you’re watching through an Xbox or Roku device.

  2. September 2nd, 2009 | 12:44 am | #2

    dude… you severely need a little editorial section or something.

    anyways, i just had to log on to the interwebs to express my extreme dissatisfaction with the upcoming horr(ible)or film, Jennifer’s Body.

    wow. fucking stab my eyes with anthrax-laden shards of crackpipe. my god. only megan fox can bring the arguably shittiest movie ever to a theaters worldwide. i believe satan exists.

  3. September 2nd, 2009 | 8:44 am | #3

    Mike, I agree, Senter’s is certainly a performance that deserves notice. I’m looking forward to what he does in Cabin Fever 2. Hopefully they give him something to work with.

    TJ, why don’t you go hijack one of Salisbury’s reviews or something? If you really want an editorial section to whine in I’d be happy to turn over the reigns of to you.

  4. September 2nd, 2009 | 1:13 pm | #4

    um i keep looking at Shay Astar and thinking ashtray and also that she might want a stage name instead of a stripper name, i mean there is a difference right lol

  5. September 2nd, 2009 | 1:50 pm | #5

    That’s racist!

  6. September 2nd, 2009 | 6:07 pm | #6

    well hush my mouth!

  7. TJ
    September 8th, 2009 | 8:42 pm | #7

    brian, a) no one reads this site, and b) i didn’t even realize someone else was posting on here. HND has expanded two-fold!

    anyways, bitch.

  8. September 8th, 2009 | 8:47 pm | #8

    I don’t get it.

  9. September 8th, 2009 | 8:52 pm | #9

    Oh, I remember now. You are the guy who pretends to like heavy metal.

  10. R.J. Sayer
    September 10th, 2009 | 2:54 pm | #10

    RED is easily the strongest Ketchum adaptation. THE LOST is pretty good. it has a creaky sort of film-school charm to it. Senter’s performance is amazing. Bowen and Dee Wallace are very good as well. GIRL NEXT DOOR is a tragic waste, a Lifetime-Original-ized piss-take on what will undoubtedly go down as Ketchum’s most haunting book. seriously, fuck that movie.

    cuatiously optimistic about OFFSPRING.

  11. R.J. Sayer
    September 10th, 2009 | 2:59 pm | #11

    Brian – you really, really ought to read his novels. I recommend you start with OFF SEASON. then Offspring. save Girl Next Door for farther down the line. hit Red and Old Flames (mostly for the included “novella” Right to Life). you can probably skip Cover. his story in Triage is pretty good, if a little half-hearted. I’m going to try and score a 1st edition copy of Hide and Seek from the bookstore near me pretty soon.

    also, i’m a little upset that you failed to mention the DVD’s AWFUL menu screen in your review. seriously. WHAT THE FUCK is going in that thing?

  12. R.J. Sayer
    September 10th, 2009 | 3:01 pm | #12

    oh. sorry. just saw the “Netflix Watch Instantly” thing.

    i’m an idiot.

    but seriously, the DVD has the worst menu screen ever.

  13. September 10th, 2009 | 3:26 pm | #13

    R.J., thanks for checking out my review, I’m honored.

    Unfortunately, I only read about one novel per year. I read so goddamned much at work it isn’t exactly the first thing I want to do when I get home. And I’d rather watch movies. I hope to finish some book Peter recommended (can’t remember the title) sometime in 2009. Maybe I’ll do a Ketchum novel in 2010.

  14. September 10th, 2009 | 6:42 pm | #14

    Actually Brian, I think the book I recommended was SUMMER OF NIGHT, which R.J. recommended to me first. So he will destroy you if you don’t finish it.

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