Actors: Robert Patrick, David Lipper, Alexander Calvert
Director: Ian Kessner
Language: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Region: Region A/1
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Number of discs: 1
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: ANCHOR BAY
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Run Time: 85 minutes
Lost after Dark is not only a slasher film with a plot resembling the popular horror sub-genre of the 1980s, it aspires to be mistaken as one of these forgotten B-films. The narrative takes place in the ‘80s, but more importantly is the faux grindhouse style that attempts to recreate the look of a slasher seen at the drive-in. This means intentional screen static, scenes missing, and a series of practical effects. While the film is never less than entertaining, there is not enough commitment to this idea for Lost After Dark to feel like a success. Large sections of the film seem to completely forget about the faux grindhouse style, and overall it just feels like a watered down attempt at doing was already accomplished by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez with their double-feature film, Grindhouse.
When a group of high school students borrow a bus to sneak out of their school dance for a night of drinking and debauchery in a cabin, it’s a perfectly familiar set-up for the bloody deaths that follow. The group is comprised of the usual cast of characters, from the popular jock to the straight-laced A-student, though the expectations of each one’s chance at survival are subverted by the filmmaker’s willingness to kill off the kind characters first. If only these iconic character types had been addressed in terms of horror film expectations, this choice may have been as successful as past films that have done the same, such as Scream or The Cabin in the Woods.
The idea that Lost After Dark has is clever, but director Ian Kessner doesn’t take it half as far as other filmmakers already have in previous films attempting the same concept. Many of the gags even remain the same, though not as effective. During Planet Terror, Rodriguez’s half of the Grindhouse experience, the film cuts out suddenly during the sex scene with a short notice letting us know that a section of the reel is missing. Lost After Dark does the same, but right before one of the action/horror sequences instead. This doesn’t provide the same humor, but instead just gives the filmmaker to cheat at a surprise later in the narrative. The biggest problem with the film’s attempt at recreating an ‘80s slasher, however, comes from the inconsistency in this style. The gags are often few and far in-between, so that eventually it just feels like any generic slasher from any time period.
Lost After Dark offers a mildly amusing concept that isn’t taken nearly far enough to stand out amongst many others with the same idea. What it does have going for it are a number of good looking practical effects chosen over the more modern approach of CGI. Other modern slashers have done this also, often with a more straightforward approach, but even sub-par effects seem intentional in this setting. My one big gripe against the style of the film is probably also the one thing that most reminded me of ‘80s slashers, and that is a complete lack of light. Sometimes the lighting is so poor that it becomes near impossible to distinguish what is actually occurring. While this may be an accurate stylistic choice, as well as an option for hiding the less realistic effects, it often makes knowing what is happening very difficult. Even in the cheapest horror films, you have to be able to see what is happening in order for there to be suspense.
Entertainment Value: 6.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance: 4/10