Director – Ian Kessner, Screenplay – Ian Kessner & Bo Randall, Producer – Eric Gozlan, Photography – Curtis Petersen, Music – Eric Allaman, Visual Effects – Stargate Studios (Supervisor – Kris Wood), Special Effects Supervisor – Max McDonald, Makeup Effects – Trina Brink, Production Design – Peter Mihaichuk. Production Company – Raven Banner/Gold Rush Entertainment.
Kendra Lee Timmins (Adrienne), Elise Gatien (Jamie), Jesse Camacho (Tobe), Eve Harlow (Marilyn), Justin Kelly (Sean), Alexander Calvert (Johnnie), Stephan James (Wesley), Lanie McAuley (Heather), Robert Patrick (Frank ‘Mr. C’ Cunningham), David Lipper (Adrienne’s Father), Mark Wiebe (Junior Joad), Rick Rosenthal (Sheriff)
Broomfield, Michigan, 1984. Adrienne goes to a school dance, telling her father that she will be staying overnight with her friend Jamie. What she is not telling him is that she is joining seven other friends as they hotwire the school bus and head to her father’s cabin to party. The plan goes well until the bus runs out of gas on a country backroad. The group seek help at the nearby Joad farm, only to find the house abandoned and rundown. Seven years earlier, the farm was the site of a series of murders where the victims were found cannibalised by the Joad family. A hulking figure now starts stalking and killing the members of the group.
2015 saw some quite remarkable variants on the slasher film with the likes of Final Girl (2015), The Final Girls (2015) and Last Girl Standing (2015). These took the slasher film in some unique directions, deconstructing, parodying the conventions or turning the expectations on their head, all with striking results. The Canadian-made Lost After Dark from newcomer director Ian Kessner was another such entry, although did not gain the same high profile as these others.
Lost After Dark is not a film out there radically deconstructing the genre or doing anything to reinvent it. It is not parodying, puncturing the cliches or anything of the sorts (as you keep expecting it to do), it just holds an affection for the original films. Moreover, it all is conducted in complete straight-face. The only scene that seems a little too self-consciously jokey is when Ian Kessner appropriates the ‘missing reel’ gag from Grindhouse (2007) during one attack scene.
The most overt piece of fanservice is having the characters named after classic slasher films where the guys have the names of the directors and the girls the lead actresses – Halloween (1978)’s John (Johnnie) Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis (who here has a sister named Laurie), Friday’s the 13th (1980)’s Sean S. Cunningham and Adrienne King, and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)’s Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp. Rick Rosenthal, the director of Halloween II (1981), also makes a cameo as the sheriff right at the end.
Lost After Dark never pretends to be anything more than a solid and well made slasher homage to the heyday of the slasher film. You might point to another intended slasher homage of recent Hatchet (2006) and in particular its sequels. Where the Hatchet series seems determined to drench the screen in extremes of blood and gore to the extent that the sequels ended up experiencing censorship difficulties, Ian Kessner maintains relative restraint.
Rather than gore, Kessner focuses on creating solid characters and a well-made film. One of the biggest jolts is [PLOT SPOILERS] when the film creates Kendra Lee Timmins as the initial point-of-view character where she seems to be written with the intention of being the Final Girl – only for the big shock to instead be that she becomes one of the earliest victims.
The film does a fair job of replicating the pop culture of the era with Rubik’s Cubes, ghetto blasters and walkmans (although a 1984 date did seem just a little early to have characters appreciating rap). The only thing that is missing in terms of this paying homage to the classic slasher film is the lack of gratuitous nudity.
Full film available online here:-