Jack Ketchum’s The Lost (2008) – By Brian Morton

 If you’ve ever lived in, or spent any real time in, small towns, then you know that they’re a world unto themselves. I don’t know if it’s because they’re far removed from bigger cities, or if it’s just something about being in one that makes them nearly a society unto themselves. Now, most of the time that’s a good thing, I can’t think of one person I know who might not benefit from the slower pace and the generally more congenial atmosphere of a small town, I think the only problem might come from growing up in one. I’ve known quite a few people who’ve grown up in small towns, and, unless their family keeps them firmly grounded, they can go wild…much more wild than the wildest kid in the city. Well, that’s sort of what the new Anchor Bay movie, Jack Ketchum’s The Lost, deals with.

This is the story of Ray Pye, a man who clearly has bigger problems than just being from (and in) a small town, he crushes beer cans into his boots so he can look taller (Napoleonic complex anyone??), and he’s the ‘ring leader’ of his little gang. When the movie opens, Ray gets it into his head that a couple of girls who are hanging together by a nearby lake are ‘lezzies’, and since he thinks that’s disgusting, he decides that they both deserve to be punished. So, Ray gets his .22 rifle and kills them both. Except Ray’s never done this before and one gets away, even if she’s a vegetable and can’t identify her attacker. Well, since Ray’s two friends were with him, they all cover up the crime.

Flash forward four years, the crimes are still unsolved, Ray is running around town like he owns it, and the police know he killed the girls, but can’t prove it. Although in the passing years, Ray seems to have become more unstable (if that’s possible) than ever. When one girl rejects him and another girl who he’s been seeing (and actually seems to sympathize with) breaks up with him, Ray completely snaps and sets out to ‘fix all these bitches’!

Jack Ketchum’s The Lost is based on a true story (you can listen to the commentary by the author himself to hear the real story…the commentary is a first for Ketchum and it’s well worth your time), and rivals all those other ‘based on’ movies, like Helter Skelter. The real horror behind The Lost isn’t the gore or the violence, it’s that it all feels quite real. The events portrayed in the movie could all happen quite easily, Ketchum doesn’t base his horror on monsters or masked serial killers, this horror is right next door, this horror could be sitting right next to you on the train waiting to strike at any provocation, it’s incredibly powerful. The anchor of this movie is the performance by Marc Senter, his portrayal of Ray Pye will send a chill down your spine, the line between charming Ray and violent out of control Ray is right beneath the surface and you’ll feel yourself tensing up when you sense the change is on the horizon, Senter plays it so perfectly, I’d have to say, I’d probably be a bit nervous if I ever found myself in a small room with him! Jack Ketchum’s The Lost is one of those movies that straddles genres, not really a full on horror movie, it’s terrible horrific, and not really a true crime story, it’ll have you wanting to find out more about the real facts of this (somewhat) fictionalized case, and it’s a movie that will stay with you like that film some soaps leave on you that just won’t scrub off, no matter how hot the water. I’m giving Jack Ketchum’s The Lost four out of four cigars because it affected me the same way Helter Skelter did, it left me worrying about my neighbors…just what the hell are they up to over there?!? You can get a copy for yourself by heading over to the Anchor Bay web site. So, until next time, when I’ll be watching everyone in the neighborhood very carefully, remember that the best movies are bad movies.