“Surprisingly good slasher homage”
Coming hot on the heels of last year’s THE FINAL GIRLS, here’s another film inspired by the classic slasher films of the 1970s and 1980s. However, instead of taking the meta or post-modern route, LOST AFTER DARK gives us a more straightforward, blood-splattered homage to a genre that, like the lumbering maniacs that are often the killers in these films, refuses to lie down and die.
It’s 1984, and a group of teenagers decide to swear off the homecoming dance / prom / whatever other thing unrelated to work that American schools seemed to be holding every other week in these films, and instead travel to a remote cabin in a stolen school bus to enjoy a weekend of those old slasher standbys beer, drugs and pre-marital sex.
Unfortunately the bus breaks down and they find themselves pursued by a cannibalistic maniac who lives in the crumbling old house they stumble upon in the middle of the night. Various well-known (and probably well-loved) death scenes occur until Sheriff Rick Rosenthal (yes, the director of the original HALLOWEEN II) turns up to explain what we have already guessed.
There’s a lot to like about LOST AFTER DARK. While there’s a slightly home-made feel to the proceedings, many of the actual 1980s slasher films felt even more amateur, so it really does feel as if you’re watching an undiscovered item from that decade. The cast are likeable and give good performances, with everyone carefully avoiding any hint of being irritatingly ironic. The direction also ensures that the kills are actually quite horrible, the music suits the period without being slavishly imitative and there is a wealth of in-jokes.
These include calling all the male victims after directors of slasher films (Tobe, John, Sean, Wes) and the female victims after final girls (Jamie, Adrienne, Heather, Marilyn). There are also numerous implied references to everything from LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Where LOST AFTER DARK succeeds where other films like this sometimes fail, however, is that you don’t need to be familiar with any of these films to enjoy the picture on its own merits. None of the in-jokes are presented with any kind of nudging, knowing ‘aren’t we clever’ attitude. If you know the movies you’ll get the joke. If you don’t, you won’t feel you’re missing out.
Metrodome’s DVD gives you the film with a menu page that has some nice 1980s-style movie poster artwork. There are no extras at all, which is a bit of shame. LOST AFTER DARK really is pretty good. I liked it more than THE FINAL GIRLS and if you prefer your slasher homages a bit more down and dirty you will too.
LOST AFTER DARK is out on DVD now from