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Friday, August 21, 2015

LOST AFTER DARK -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

Every once in a while these days someone will decide to make a slasher flick, but they won't want to put a lot of effort into the story so they'll whip out the old barebones template, hang a bunch of hoary cliches on it, and call it an "80s homage."  Whether or not this is entertaining usually depends largely upon the mood of the viewer at the time. 

Continuing in this dubious tradition is LOST AFTER DARK (2014), the "story" of a bunch of teens being terrorized and slaughtered one by one in the middle of nowhere by a psycho killer.  After stealing a school bus, they head off into the night for a secluded cabin belonging to the father of virginal "final girl" contestant Adrienne (Kendra Timmins) for one of those "party down" weekends that always turn out bad. 

Adrienne, whose older sister Laurie we saw getting the old "bear trap to the face" routine in a pre-titles flashback, feels bad about lying to her kindly single dad Norman (David Lipper) about her whereabouts, but she can't wait for some alone time with her heartthrob Sean (Justin Kelly), and perhaps her first kiss. Also along for the ride are her BFF Jamie (Elise Gatien), rude boy Johnnie (Alexander Calvert) and his blonde bimbo girlfriend Heather (Lanie McAuley), token "cool black dude" Wes (Stephan James in a really bad afro wig), misfit Goth chick Marilyn (Eve Harlow), and, last but not least, lonely fat guy Tobe (Jesse Camacho), who has a pitiful unrequited crush on Marilyn.

The dialogue these characters spout is so inane that it hovers precariously between tongue-in-cheek and just plain dumb.  They're also not too smart, which, to be fair, is something of a requirement in these movies.  After their bus runs out of gas on the most deserted road in the United States (of Canada, that is), they hoof it just long enough to find the darkest scariest old house in the universe to force their way into and go prowling around for absolutely no reason whatsoever except to rouse its hopelessly inbred inhabitant into a blind killing frenzy. 

Much of what elevated certain films in this genre above the rest of the pack was the perverse appeal of stalkers such as Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddy Krueger, etc.  The best this one can do, unfortunately, is a shaggy hillbilly cannibal named Junior Joad (Mark Wiebe) who looks like a Duck Dynasty reject.  He doesn't even start killing until almost an hour in, hovering in the shadows and making with the usual POV shots in order to build "suspense" (i.e., boredom) as our unsuspecting heroes galumph around in the dark.

Things pick up a bit when the farm implements finally start a-swingin', and there's even something of a plot twist that manages to surprise.  The kills are just bloody enough to keep gorehounds from feeling totally gypped, although there's very little of the old Tom Savini-style imagination and ingenuity involved.  Ultimately the final stalk-and-slash sequence drags on long enough for me to start hoping old Junior would wrap things up.

Director Ian Kessner makes a mild effort to give LOST AFTER DARK that "grindhouse" look, but this is limited to a few rough edits, occasional simulated film imperfections, and, in one jarring instance, the old "reel missing" gag that you'll no doubt remember from PLANET TERROR.  This approach seemed odd to me since I remember most of my 80s slasher flicks as either first-run theatrical prints or VHS tape rentals. 

Performances are more or less adequate.  Robert Patrick of TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY fame gets to overact as Vice-Principal Cunningham, a stressed-out Viet Nam vet who doesn't allow this sort of thing from his students, while HALLOWEEN 2 director Rick Rosenthal turns up near the end as a grizzled old sheriff.  Astute viewers will notice that every character (except for the killer) is named after either a slasher flick director or final girl. 

The Blu-ray from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 widescreen with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish. No extras.

Neither one of the worst modern-day slasher flicks I've seen (it's better than MOTOR HOME MASSACRE, THE EVIL WOODS, and DARK FIELDS, to name a few) nor one of the best, LOST AFTER DARK exists in that creepy, mist-shrouded zone of mystery that I call "take it or leave it."  If you take it, just keep your expectations low and--as Jamie keeps telling herself while fleeing through the woods from Junior's pickaxe--"keep breathing." 

Buy it at

Street date: Sept. 1, 2015
Stills used are not taken from Blu-ray


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