Anchor Bay takes audiences back to the 1980’s with their release of “Lost After Dark.” It’s pretty obvious what types of movies Director Ian Kessner was raised on after the first five minutes of this homage to the slasher films of yesteryear. All the elements are there, down to the musical score that copies the works of John Carpenter, Henry Manfredini, and Michael Zager.
A group of teens sneak out of their high school dance to cruise around and have some unsupervised fun in “Lost After Dark.” When their car runs out of gas on a deserted road, they discover an old farmhouse and the cannibal killer living inside.
“Lost After Dark” tries a little too hard to mimic its influences. There are some nice kill scenes filled with gore and one sequence featuring eye trauma that will make you cringe. It also builds up a good amount of tension at times. However, it’s missing the irony, self-reference, and cleverness movies like “Scream” award viewers.
The stereotypical cast of characters for a ’80s slasher film are found in “Lost After Dark.” We get the overweight geek, the stoner rocker chick, the jerk jock, the nice jock, the virgin, the stuck-up girl, and the ethnic character that usually dies first. In addition to those staples of the genre, we get Robert Patrick as a Vietnam vet-turned-Assistant Principal determined to find the gang of mischievous students responsible for interrupting his quiet night of chauffeuring the school dance. Let’s not forget the concerned and naive parent of the good girl who embarks on a quest to find his little angel.
Although “Lost After Dark” sticks very close to the slasher formula we all know. With that being said, it does throw in a few surprises here and there. The ingredients are all the same, but a couple are rearranged to try to change things up a bit.
Another big issue I had with “Lost After Dark” is that there’s no real element of surprise when it comes to the identity of the murderer. You know who it is from the very beginning. Slasher movies are always more engaging if you don’t know who the killer is and you’re left guessing until the bitter end. Remember how you felt at the finale of “Scream,” “Friday the 13th,” “Prom Night,” and “My Bloody Valentine?” You don’t get that adrenalized sensation here.
The directors try to capture a vintage look through dirty edits and cuts, faux scratches, and burned out sections of film. The problem is the rest of the picture quality looks way too digital. The whole experience comes across as uneven and amateurish.
Even though it’s Not Rated, “Lost After Dark” would achieve an “R” if put before the MPAA. It contains violence, gore, profanity, adult situations, alcohol and drug use, and frightening and intense scenes. Surprisingly, one missing component that never seems to be forgotten by other directors is nudity. There’s lots of talk about it and some makeout sessions, but nothing is ever shown.
“Lost After Dark” is a fine attempt at recapturing the glory days of the 1980’s slasher. All it made me want to do was watch one of the originals it was trying so hard to duplicate. The movie does prove one saying to be true: “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.”
“Lost After Dark” is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.