Director Ian Kessner presents his first horror film feature co-written with Bo Ransdell, lining up a material as a tribute design with an emphasis on retro-grade horror classic buffet style of 80’s slasher films, keeping diehard fans pleased with the authentic style and homage to other legends in the genre. They together never over think the concept allowing it to flow smoothly for both the vintage feel and many pop culture references, helping break tension only to suffer a unexpected jolt of jump scare. This movie runs a dangerous course, with some overlooking the intentions of Kessner as nothing more than just ripping off those giants that came before him, and always a difficult hurdle when using more than one homage reference point.
Lost After Dark dances with fire early from the characters and giving each the stereotypical identify markers in the standardized slasher market. The setup of the story, which follows a group of teenagers out to party when the school bus they’ve stolen, breaks down, they locate an old farmhouse, abandoned since a standoff with police and a residence of cannibal killers, and one known as ‘Junior Joad.’ Of course the enter it, why not the common thought pattern to escape the trouble go to a location unwanted and uninvited with an opportunity to see your friends gutted, makes complete sense. Those included in the group, the virgin, a slut, a black guy, a jock, and so, a clear discussion containing 80s references, which earn chuckles but nothing incredibly outlandishly funny. Just a moment, the movie goes further cross the lines of homage a tad too far with regard to the names of characters, been there and done that before, but here it is again (can you spot it) Johnnie, Tobe, Wesley, Sean, Jamie, Heather, Marilyn, and Adrienne. Yes the men names, after the director of might horror movies, in the powerful commanding seat of power, while a women are ‘the final girls’ bit of sexism spilling clearly early on, and turning a portion of the fans off. A quick reference to the them, in more detail Adrienne (Kendra Leigh Timmins), a innocent girl joins Jamie (Elise Gatien) wild night of partying, Tobe (Jesse Camacho), Sean (Justin Kelly), Wesley (Stephan James) procures bus, along with Marilyn (Eve Harlow), Heather (Lanie McAuley), and Johnnie (Alexander Calvert). Whew – there’s far too many to track good thing the body count rises fast in the flick. Meanwhile, Robert Patrick gives an incredible funny and stylish high school principal and Vietnam veteran ‘Mr. C’ a final portrayal. Although a slight letdown, Mark Wiebe’s physically intimidating build as ‘Junior Joad’, gives the appearance of force, however a sense of many other well known iconic killers filter into the composite of this killer, a bit of originality. Imagine the thought, first time the audience sees him and he’s gnawing on human calf with the foot attach, different, the kills have some perks, but the hulking beast walking, very normal. The balance between horror and humor cute, but no one ever gives the camera that break in the 4th-wall of acting (speaking directly to the camera), rather continue with plot plodding so frequently used before in the slasher films. Fine good riddance approach taken with the demise of much of the cast with a bear trap to the face, an auger twisted through a spine, a pickaxe and then a pitchfork through the gut, a head bashed against a tree, a car dropped atop someone. Truly, a standout in the killing cycle pays a good homage to Zombie (1979) the Fulci classic, the shard of glass driven through the eye in a slow fashion– its good stuff!
The real crew standouts find themselves in the often overlooked and never truly recognized, but without them the film crumbles, top grades for production design Peter Mihaichuk, while the sets, vehicles, clothing handled by Susan Mihaichuk and David LeBrun) all assisted the audience in the transport back to a long forgotten time. In addition, blessed with the expertise of cinematography legend Curtis Peterson, whose credits include First Blood (1982) to The Changeling (1980), rounded out the talent behind the camera. Alas, the movie drags slightly between the rampaging killing modes, otherwise it relies on providing a story for entertainment, with ridiculous moments, but never goes over-the-top, and that’s what misses the mark.
Having the opportunity to view many movies, and some with a referencing to the heyday of early eighties smorgasbord of endless mass murdering films, the youth of today left with a continuous supply of remakes and reboots, some want to revisit it all with a homage creation. Homage movies welcome in small scenes, tributes of recreating a moment in times, wonderful a whole movie of it, to some reeks of rip-off, however the flick attempts to fit into a b-movie, with a-level killings. Kessner achieves the latter, and with distribution through Anchor Bay Films, perhaps others will too, needless Lost After Dark, could serve as the start-up movie of an endless barrage of slaying good weekend, one could do a lot worst.