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The Lost starts like a fairy tale. Once upon a time there was a boy
called Ray Pye. He put crushed beer cans in his boots to make himself
look taller. We meet him with his two friends, Tim and Jennifer, in the
campgrounds of a wood. Ray strolls towards a wooden toilet cubicle
erected on the hill, the door opens, and a naked girl steps out,
quickly apologising as she thought she and her friend were alone. The
image is so startling that you know at once this will be no ordinary
Ray has killed rabbits before and decides to kill the girl and her friend, to 'see what it feels like'. Tim and Jennifer, whom he dominates, are coerced into covering up. Four years later, Ray hasn't been caught, in spite of one cop who is determined to make him pay. Ray goes on to much nastier things.
If The Lost teeters on the edge of violence that is so extreme as to revolt most audiences, the question that will hover in the mind of many serious viewers will be whether the end is going to justify the content. Some will not stay that long - in the screening I went to, several people, after a section of intense and escalating violence, walked out at a point where a pregnant woman is stabbed in the back. You have to be able to stomach quite a lot, calmly to consider whether the film, in spite of this, has artistic merit. During the end credits, it says, "If you liked the movie, read the book. If you didn't like the movie, read the book." Ironically, many may not have stayed to this point.
While the film is not a masterpiece, I will argue that it does have considerable artistic merit, even if I feel slightly uncomfortable at disenchanted, gun-toting American teenagers watching it. It delivers both in style and in substance, and if censors want to intervene, that is maybe more a reflection on the people they think might be influenced by it than on its standing as new, invigorating and perfectly valid art-house cinema.
Firstly, the film gets a reaction. Not one of bored disgust - it provokes a gut-feeling, it makes the audience test and question its own tolerance levels. The acting is good all-round, but that of the lead character particularly memorable. His psychotic, drug-fuelled mannerisms stick in the brain like a traumatic encounter. The storyline and editing are stylish. Characters, almost in keeping with the once-upon-a-time introduction, have a two-dimensional quality, like those in fairy stories and we tend to see only traits that are essential to the plot. The characters' development does not go so far as being tongue in cheek or a caricature, but reaches an almost symbolic level where they become ciphers in a particularly challenging onslaught to the senses.
The cinematography and art direction is inventive. There will be switches to high grain film, or unnerving mixes of slow motion, missing frames and superimposed images. The bedrooms of Ray, and also Katherine, a lush that he falls in love with, use vivid reds and blacks to create a surreal effect, and props that include a statue of a black panther. Ray wears black eye make-up, throwing himself into a Bowie-esquire larger-than-life image to give himself an almost god-like appeal to the other, less dominant, teenagers. In contrast, when he finally comes clean about 'the worst thing he ever did', he is sitting dressed in black but on a pure white sofa and background. Katherine, who thinks at first she can 'handle' him, puffs languorously at a cigarette through red lips as Ray talks and she becomes sexually aroused.
Marc Senter's performance (as Ray) is like a turbine that drives the film ever faster forward. The potent soundtrack reflects a cocaine-frenzied adrenalin rush, and even the 'normal' characters offer only some queasy sense of relief. There is 60yr old Ed, for instance, who is in a relationship with teenager Sally; and Detective Charlie Schilling (Michael Bowen), who might seem crazy until you put him next to Ray. Unlike many films that try to capitalise on excessive violence, The Lost wins partly because it is not repetitive. There is nasty violence, quick violence, prolonged violence, mental torture with cruel and violent treatment, 'justified' violence and sick violence. Then there is even offhand violence - "I didn't like you anyway," says Ray as he aims and fires, killing someone with all the casual pride of a sharpshooter at a fairground. (In case you haven't guessed, there is quite a lot of violence!) Supporting scenes draw on popular subculture for realism, such as the rush to flush drugs (grass) down the toilet with limited success when the cops try to bust a party, or the 'friend' who tries to shave an unnoticeable amount of resin from Ray's cannabis delivery. Sensuous, opulent, and recognising few limits, The Lost strains at the sequins to be a cult nasty and succeeds. Even the sex scenes throw in a level of wit not found in the average shocker. "I'm sorry that was a little fast," says Ray after f*cking Katherine the first time. "I've had it faster," she retorts nonchalantly.
While featured songs such as "Drink, Fight, F*ck," might sum up the superficial ethos of the film, it rises well above the trailer-trash slasher that it could easily have become. More concise and elegant than Freeway, more intelligent and visceral than Natural Born Killers, demonstrating a considerable array of talent in its determination to shock that was so noticeably absent in The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, less high-brow than Irreversible, and more hypnotic than American Psycho. The Lost, however repugnant many people will find it, lives up to its promise of being controversial and worthy of attention by all lovers of the genre.
Possible Spoilers!!-I attended a preview screening of "The Lost". Having read the book, as well as an account of the true story on which Jack Ketchum's tale is based, I had an idea of what to expect, however, I was unprepared for the integrity shown by the filmmakers in their unflinching look at narcissistic violence. The main character, Ray Pye (chillingly portrayed by Marc Senter) represents the childish nature of current American Pop Culture in which we have become so accustomed to instant gratification that, when we don't actually get what we want when we want it, the infant inside us can explode. And that indeed is the story of Ray Pye. "The Lost", for me, is a return to 1970's style film-making, ala "Taxi Driver" & "Straw Dogs". To call it simply a horror film is to sell it short. The writer/director Chris Sivertson has created a character driven story in which Pye's need for control is driven up a notch with the introduction of each new (independent) female character, women with their own problems, and so not as naive as the two "robots" Pye has controlled since high school. This loss of control, combined with the scrutiny of a dogged police detective, is what ultimately causes Pye's "makeup" to crack, if you will. What results is violent indeed, but shown with a realism much needed in this day and age of CGI "shock and awe" gore. And unlike some of the unnecessary cruelty depicted in movies like "Saw", scenes of torture shown seemingly for no other reason than to "top" the competition, the culmination of Pye's frustration has a very specific conclusion, and without trying to psychoanalyze too deeply, it is indeed symbolic that Pye's rage is infantile in nature. The ending of the film will cause many to gasp, but is in no way gratuitous. At any rate, it is not my intention to "review" the film, per se, although it is made with much technical skill and good knowledge of effective camera angles, dynamic sound effects and some very inventive "kinetic" editing sequences, giving the viewer an "adrenaline" rush, coming from fear, as if we are in the room with Pye and his victims. If you have read any of Ketchum's work (or are familiar with the true story of Charles Schmid) you will know going in that this film is no fairy tale. And yet, it is hoped by this film fanatic that "The Lost", BECAUSE of it's realism, and BECAUSE it depicts violence as it really is, neither glossed over nor unnecessarily gory, will find distribution to as many screens as possible, because believe it or not folks, there is an audience out there who remember the great independent filmmakers of the 1970s and have been wondering for a while when the next batch of Scorceses and Schraders were gonna come along. Coming from a totally original perspective, two of them are here now: Chris Sivertson and Lucky McKee. They have made an excellent character study here. With "The Lost", they have cast a steady gaze on the nature of violence, holding Ray Pye up in the mirror to show us the real reflection of what takes place when a culture of indulgence goes unchecked for too long. In this day and age of ho-hum mass murder and twenty-four hour turnaround "change the subject" news media, to make a film like "The Lost" takes courage and integrity. Sivertson and McKee have these qualities, as well as talent in spades. Let's give them the recognition they deserve!
First off, some people just can't get into low-budget films. And I
agree many are unwatchable. However I've also found some decent films
among the crap. Bottom line, if you have a problem sitting through
indie films. Then this movie probably won't change your mind. However
if you're a fan of Jack Ketchum (who wrote the novel it was based on)
then you'll probably enjoy it. It manages to stay pretty close to the
book, other then the book being set in the late 60's. At first I
thought this was going to be a problem, but as the movie goes on it
kind of takes on a timeless feel. And being a low-budget movie, setting
it in another era would have been too costly. The acting was pretty
good for an indie, the actor who plays Ray Pye pretty much nailed the
look and essence of the character.
I caught this movie at the Rue Morgue convention where there was a Q&A with Jack Ketchum afterwards. Which was pretty interesting, he explained how low-budget films allow the director to follow his sometimes grisly story lines more accurately. That's OK with me, I don't mind low-budget movies, especially when they're based on such powerful writing.
Caught a special screening of The Lost this past weekend at Horrorfind
Weekend in Hunt Valley, Maryland where author Jack Ketchum was in
attendance. Ketchum introduced the film by saying how impressed he was
with the end result. An opinion I share whole heartedly. First of all,
the cast is a top notch mix of veteran character actors and relative
novices, all of whom are very good at what they do. This is something
one doesn't often see in such a low budget project. Many familiar faces
grace the screen and talented ones at that. It is the presence of such
a cast that sets the film apart from the crowd right at the start. The
Lost also has a great look to it. Aesthetically speaking, the film
doesn't appear to be as low budget as it actually is. That's an element
which can really hold a film back and one which I was afraid might be
an issue here. Fortunately the film looks wonderful. As I mentioned,
The Lost is a very faithful adaptation of Ketchum's book. This isn't to
say that a few liberties aren't taken. Nothing that should offend fans
of the book though.
In all, The Lost is a very satisfying film which Ketchum fans should enjoy. Hopefully the film will be shown the appreciation it truly deserves.
THE LOST is one of the most disturbing real life movies I have ever seen, period. I thought Ketchum's "Girl Next Door" was about as disturbing as you can get, based on a true life crime, but this one is much worse and very graphic. Actually, Ketchum took two real crimes, the first about two women that get shot in a woods because some psycho thinks they are lesbian, and the other crime which occupies the rest of this movie. Ray Pye is a twenty-something psycho, that with his good looks and car and crap attracts a few followers and girls in this small town. He puts smashed beer cans in his boots to make him seem taller. The movie moves ahead four years, after the girls in the woods are killed, and Ray is having a ball, balling who ever he wants, and partying and drugs and the whole nine yards. But his egomaniac world is starting to come crashing down along with his sanity, when his girls start to turn against him, especially the beautiful Katherine (Robin Sydney). He pretty much goes berserk, and the last twenty minutes or so of this movie are very hard to watch, even for this old gorehound. It turns into almost a cross between Last House on the Left and the Manson murders. Ray even references the Manson murders when he takes his hostages into an unsuspecting couples cabin, with a young couple, the wife being pregnant. Even Jack Ketchum says in the commentary how difficult the last twenty minutes were for even him to watch. This is incredibly brutal material folks, and the director holds nothing, and I mean nothing back. Ray looks to me like a young Tom Cruise, or maybe a cross between a young Elvis and Tom Cruise, that seems to be the look he is going for. When he snaps, and I mean snaps, it's like the devil himself has taken him over. This is a hell of a movie, and it did make me flinch a little, and that to me is very impressive. Not for the easily offended for sure, but for everybody else, put "The Lost" on your Want List immediately!!!!!!!!!!!! I could not recommend this extremely disturbing movie any higher. Very very well made by the way.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Lost starts late one night as Ray Pye (Marc Senter) & his two best
friends Timmy (Alex Frost) & Jennifer (Shay Astar) are out in the
woods, Ray spots two girls who start kissing each other which offends
Ray's moral sensibilities so he shoots them with a rifle killing one
girl & leaving the other in a coma. Jump forward 'Four Years Later' &
the crime remains unsolved, the girl has been in a coma for four years
but has now died. Detective Charlie Schilling (Michael Bowden) has
investigated the case for four years & his only suspect is Ray,
Schilling is convinced Ray is responsible but cannot prove it. Ray is
obsessed with his image & chats up every girl he meets, he has violent
outbursts & is mentally unstable. Schilling tries to manipulate Timmy &
Jennifer's fear of Ray in order to get a confession but when Ray finds
out he loses control completely...
Written, produced & directed by Chris Silvertson based on the novel by Jack Ketchum this rather dull serial killer thriller is more of a character study & was a real chore for me to sit through, there is no horror or suspense & I thought it was pretty lifeless. The script focuses on Ray as a character, the problem with that is I though Ray was extremely unlikable. Ray is arrogant, treats people like dirt, he's a liar & cheat, he's a callous murderer, a druggie & selfish which is just about every annoying trait you can imagine which makes him as a character very unappealing & impossible to relate to. I was also quite surprised at how long The Lost goes on for, at a good two hours I felt like i had been sat there watching this for days as not that much actually happens. After the two girls are shot during the opening the script just follows Ray around, there's some subplots about an underage romance, the cop trying to prove Ray is responsible & a rich girl named Katherine who pops up occasionally & seemingly isn't bothered when her boyfriend Ray admits he brutally murdered two girls in cold blood. What all the good looking girls in this find so attractive about Ray is a complete mystery to me, a lying two timing rat like Ray turns on his bad boy charm & the girls just fall for it. Generally the script is quite bitty, it never seems to focus on one aspect of the story for too long & with such an unlikable central character I found the film hard to sit through.
Horror author Jack Ketchum drew his inspiration for the character of Ray Pye from the real life convicted serial killer Charles Schmid who was apparently nicknamed the 'Pied Piper of Tuscon' for reasons I don't have a clue about. The character of Ray Pye represents Schmid quite well apparently including his fake mole & copious use of lipstick & make-up. There is next to no violence or gore here, a few people get shot at the end & the two girls are shot at the start but with not much happening between them don't expect a high body-count or a blood bath. There's some sex & nudity thrown in if that's your thing.
Filmed on a low budget the film looks alright & has decent production values but with lots of dialogue heavy exposition The Lost didn't need to have a big budget. The acting is pretty good, I can't say I warmed to any of the character's but maybe that show's how good the performances are as I don't think your supposed to like anyone.
The Lost is a film that starts off quite well & promises to be a serial killer thriller but settles down into a boring character study full of melodramatic tedium that bored me silly. At two hours long not enough happened to maintain my interest & a really unlikable central character just killed the viewing experience dead for me.
The Lost is a film that had a lot of potential, some great directing, a
good cast, and a decent script. The problem is that it goes on forever.
The movie starts with a bang, and then kind of slows down, and the audience is given a group of characters to follow around. It is during this part of the film that all structure falls away, and things just kind of float. There is no real movement. Now, The Lost is based off of a novel, and the scenes in the novel probably had a bit more power because the reader can get into the character's head. It is much harder to do that in film, and because of that the importance of some of the scenes is unclear. Whole scenes could have been excised, and nothing would have been taken away from the story.
Then we get to the ending. I'm not going to say what happens, but I will say that it is very easy to see when things are starting to pick up and get back on track, and once they do, all bets are off. The ending of this film is one of the most disturbing and painful things I have ever watched in my life. The thing is, the audience knows that this is coming, but still, it is hard to brace yourself for the intense cruelty that you'll witness.
This is a film that gets an A for effort, but a C+ for execution. While the beginning and the end are tight, the middle of the film seems to lack direction and focus. Nothing happens, and very little is gained. So, this one is a rental.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ray Pyke(Marc Senter) is a narcissistic developing psychopath, whose
volatile nature is sure to eventually meet a crescendo of violence as
his drug habit and infantile fits of rage represent a volcano on it's
way to eruption. Ray's friend Tim(Alex Frost)and girlfriend Jen(Shay
Astar)bare witness to his gunning down two girls camping out, and must
carry such a burden out of fear for their safety(..that, and Ray has a
control over them). This depraved act of violence works as a reminder
to us that Ray is a ticking timebomb, as we watch his life slowly
spiral out of control as Detective Charlie Schilling(Michael
Bowen)hounds him over the murders, knowing that he's the one
responsible, just without proof. Ray is the kind of dirtbag who dresses
like a country stud, with boots(..with crushed bear cans to make him
look taller), black jeans and shirt(..with additional slight touches of
eyeliner )& hair slicked back right in place. Sparta, as we soon
realize, is a small blot in Texas where dreams are elsewhere and the
pretty girls who live in this place have few options in regards to male
suitors so Ray is one they flock to. He's merely an assistant manager
of his mom's "Bates Motel", but carries himself as if he ruled the
world. Just charismatic enough to attract the local female, but it's
merely an endless parade of humping and dumping, with the girls
returning because there's nobody else it seems. Three particular female
characters which have the misfortune to have ever found themselves
locked into Ray's radar are Sally Richmond(Alice Hirson), a young
woman, temporarily working as a maid for his hotel, who wants nothing
at all to do with him, recognizing the kind of sleazoid he really
is(..that, and she is involved with a 60 year old retired detective
portrayed by screen vet Ed Lauter), Kat Wallace(Robin Sydney), a
wealthy babe, her mom a schizophrenic, whose obviously attracted to the
danger and mystery he presents(..that, and she's bored and craving
excitement), not knowing how obsessive and juvenile he really is, and,
of course, Jen who would do anything to please him, always on the
receiving end of neglect, ridicule., and abuse. Somewhat holding
himself together, while abusing drugs and liquor, it's only an amount
of time before Ray snaps.
The fuse is lit by Katherine who Ray longs for in every possible way, as she backs away from a possible relationship..it's realized that Ray was a fling for her, and she wishes to move on with her life. Also adding to this is the discovery that Tim and Jen have slept together(..and that Tim has been taking hash from him). We have come to the understanding that Ray's sanity is hanging by a thread and it won't require much for him to crack.
Sivertson's disturbing portrait of decaying youth bent on destruction, given commanding treatment thanks to how developed the story is, and how it will end. Ray is the kind of character just looking for an excuse to terrorize somebody, and Senter does a good job of displaying the many facets of his troubled character..someone attracted to the spotlight, addicted to a neverending stream of girls and drugs, also carrying serious homicidal tendencies, whose anger fits and outbursts serve as a warning of things to come. Robin Sydney is quite a find, a stunning bombshell whose quite photogenic and seductive(..the camera loves her)..you can see how such a gal would cause Ray(..or many a man)to get all out of sorts. Astar is appropriately pathetic, and sympathetic as Ray's much maligned squeeze, deeply in love with him no matter how emotionally he abuses her..Ray doesn't even hide his sexual excess from her, yet Jen remains loyal to him. Frost is the buddy who probably wishes to be Ray, to have the girls at his feet, the charisma to approach people the way he does. This setting is rather depressing in that we see a cast of characters with little to do but embrace the drug and sex culture available. Ray's fury at the end is rather unsettling and shocking, once he decides to go on a shooting rampage, killing anyone he so chooses(..this has been on the horizon for some time, and Kat's rejection of him finally sends him over the edge), gathering up the girls who infuriated him the most. We also follow Schilling's dogged determination and on-going interrogation to bring Ray to justice, getting what he has so longed for with the unfortunate price of lives. Sivertson's skills as a visual filmmaker are proved here(..and in I KNOW WHO KILLED ME, although that one is ridiculously convoluted and silly)with how he captures the events and characters, building them to the eventual climax. Carefully, Sivertson details what will bring Ray to the breaking point, and those characters who are effected by his rage. The climax takes place in the cabin where Ray discovered the guns used on innocent people, and is appropriately chilling, as he collects the girls who caused his psychological trauma together..completely unglued, Ray has become lost to madness(even besieging a couple there to clean up the place;his violence towards them is truly unpleasant, to say the least)as Schilling grills Tim for his whereabouts.
Jack Ketchum is a famed horror novelist, but as far as turning his stories into film is concerned, so far, it hasn't been very successful. The only film based on his writing that I enjoyed, was The Offspring. The most recent one I watched, The Lost, was by far his worst. The story is about two detectives following a guy they know is a budding serial killer, a man who they suspect in a previous crime. With no evidence against him all they can do is watch him. First off this film is very slow moving, to point where I almost turned it off. Second, the main character, Ray (Marc Senter), is a complete and utter moron. I don't know if the character was written that way or if the actor playing him was just that bad, but this guy was not believable at all! The story is rather hard to follow as well, mainly because throughout it, people just keep making statements about what they've seen or what they know, without providing those same details to the audience. Isn't the point of a good mystery to make the audience think and figure things out for themselves instead of just having someone tell them everything? This movie was slow, poorly acted, and on top of that just plain stupid! Don't waste your time on it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was ready to turn this off in the first couple minutes but withheld
and did wind up watching to the end. Did not care for the many dragged
out T&A scenes.
Best acting was done by lead actor Marc Sentor who played Ray Pye. He looked like and even his acting reminded me of a cross between a young Ray Liotta and Rob Lowe. Hope he gets more lead roles in better scripts because he deserves it.
Sometimes it reminded of American Psycho though the only pop tune it played on and off as sound track was "I'm a Pied Piper" from the 60's.
I guess why I rated it only a five is because I didn't care for most of the characters and outside of Ray Pye they were under developed. Again, more could have been done there over the extended T&A scenes. Nearly every character we did somewhat get to know was dysfunctional and not totally likable. Sometimes it was difficult to tell who was the sickest personality or character.
I would have rather seen more suspense and logical/realistic detective work rather than Pye having a meltdown or whatever that was. Also didn't care for the ending or the big climax.
But kudos to Marc Sentor, I'd give him a 10 out of 10 for his stellar performance.
It's worth a watch if you can handle the T&A.
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