Retro Review: Lost Things (2005)
Lost Things (2005)
Release Date: October 4, 2005
Directed By: Martin Murphy
Cast: Lenka Kripac, Charlie Garber, Steve Le Marquand, Alexandra Vaughan & Leon Ford
Review By: Annie Riordan
Most people, when they die, enter a long, brightly lit tunnel, not unlike an umbilical cord lined with halogen bulbs, which delivers them into a vast incandescence where they are reunited with loved ones long gone and the presence of whichever Grand Maker they choose to believe in. In Australia however, when you die an untimely, violent death, you get stuck on the dunes of a creepy beach, waving away persistent bush flies for all eternity.
At least that’s the premise of Lost Things, a strange and ever shifting dreamscape of a movie which incorporates elements of Long Weekend, Triangle and any one of a thousand or so irresponsible-teenagers-get-killed slasher film. It’s a confusing mix which mostly works but stumbles occasionally along the way.
High school students and best friends – bookish Emily and slightly slutty Tracey – are off to the beach for a forbidden weekend with their blonde surfer boyfriends Gary and Brad. Gary and Brad look so much alike that it was difficult at times to differentiate between them, so I ended up thinking of them as a singular entity, christened “Grad,” well before the movie’s plot had even fully kicked into gear.
The whole beach escape thing was Emily’s idea, although she spends more time scribbling in her journal than she does soaking up the sun. She’s a sullen, brooding little thing who is unsure of her budding relationship with Brad, a pallid milquetoast who is head over heels bonkers for her. Understandably, Brad’s a bit put out when buff and cocky beach bum Zippo shows up out of nowhere. Zippo, much older than the kids, sports a maniacal grin and creepily warns them that to remain on the beach is to die. Still, Emily finds the older man quite attractive, and he in turn makes no secret of the fact that if his eyes were hands and his tongue a dick, Emily would have been full on fucked raw and bowlegged twenty times over before a full sixty seconds could have elapsed.
Zippo wanders off. So do the kids. They meander about, they quarrel and storm off, they discuss whether or not they’re going to have sex. Eventually they realize that something weird is going on. Events keep repeating themselves. A strong feeling of déjà vu plagues them all. And when a violent confrontation with Zippo results in a bloody death, the shit really hits the fan. Is Zippo a serial killer? Could he have been responsible for the disappearance of the teens who visited the beach the previous year? Or are the kids stuck in a purgatorial loop, reliving a sisyphean nightmare from which they will never be able to awaken?
Personally, I’m in favor of the latter. But I can neither confirm nor deny any of the former hypotheses either. Lost Things ties up as many loose ends as it leaves dangling, ultimately demanding to be instantly rewatched and dissected frame by frame in search of whatever the hell it is you missed the first time around. Or the second. Or the 47th.
Fortunately, Lost Things is quite watchable enough to make repeated viewings worthwhile. The cinematography is gorgeous, as it always seems to be with Australian films. There’s just something about the Aussie landscape that makes it seem like a character unto itself. Populous but barren, beautiful but sinister. It’s the perfect backdrop for our cast of young ones, whose moods shift as rapidly as the clouds racing across that bleak staring sky over their heads.
I would have liked to have seen more of Steve Le Marquand, who plays the role of Zippo with a disarmingly casual menace. He’s sexy-hot, in a weird, dirty, disgusting kind of way. However, the kids carry the bulk of the film quite well, all things considered. Just be prepared to draw your own conclusions as the end credits roll. This ain’t no cut and dried, by the numbers slasher flick. This one – oh horror of horrors – might actually make you think a little bit.