The Lost (2005)

Genres - Thriller, Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Police Detective Film  |   Run Time - 119 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Jason Buchanan

Playing like something of a less-abstract Twin Peaks for the sadistic horror generation, director/screenwriter Chris Sivertson's stylish take on underground literary horror icon Jack Ketchum's chilling novel The Lost (itself inspired by the murderous exploits of 1960s-era serial killer Charles Schmid) successfully winds up tension in the viewer before virtually exploding on the screen with a near-overwhelming display of cinematic brutality. The key difference in Sivertson's film and Lynch's surreal cult hit, however, is that this time around the audience knows precisely who the killer is, and is simply forced to watch as his adolescent empire slowly crumbles along with his fragile ego. What follows when that inevitably happens certainly isn't pretty, and is likely to send many viewers scrambling towards the nearest exit. The Lost isn't your traditional horror film, but rather a near-satirical drama that first locks viewers in with a frightening act of violence, and then knowingly pulls back to show just what kind of man would be capable of committing such a reprehensible act. That man is Ray Pye - a sociopathic, mascara wearing American nightmare whose strangely seductive swagger is actually the result of crushed tin cans stuffed into his boots. After seeing The Lost, it's difficult to imagine anyone other that Marc Senter occupying Pye's curiously uncomfortable footwear. Senter's performance is nothing short of fearless, and when Pye stands before the mirror applying his pancake make-up and dotting the beauty mark on his right cheek, the viewer can plainly see that all hell is about to break loose. But what's an effective screen maniac if he doesn't have an ample cast to back him up? Though his performance reads borderline overwrought in the early minutes of the film, screen veteran Michael Bowen (Kill Bill, Vol. 1) and TV's Lost) eventually strikes a pitch perfect note as weary but tenacious Detective Schilling - who has been forced to watch helplessly as the mother (Dee Wallace-Stone in a brief but devastating performance) of Pye's early victim withers away into an alcoholic haze. Likewise, perpetual "that guy" Ed Lauter takes an exceptional turn as the conflicted retired cop who struggles through an affectionate May-December romance with barely-legal sweetheart Sally Richmond (Megan Henning) while attempting to steer her clear of Pye and help ex-partner Schilling nail the simmering young psycho. Zoran Popovic's seductive photography serves the story well as his lens takes on Pye's alcohol and pot-fueled perspective during one of his legendary parties and shades him in darkness early on, with the soundtrack offering an impressive array of everything from Japanese stoner rock (Boris) to Norwegian experimental (Kaada) and ear-bleeding Australian death metal (Blood Duster).