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Monica J. O'Rourke
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Movies Eddie McMullen Jr. Review by
Monica J. O'Rourke
The Lost
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THE LOST - 2006
Silver Web Productions / Anchor Bay Entertainment / Starz
Rated: USA: R

Ray Pye's a heck of a guy. Just your average, good looking, beer guzzling, drug abusing young man , shades of James Dean by way of slicked-back almost pompadoured black hair. Incredibly insecure, yet paradoxically a classic narcissist. Ray’s slept with almost every young woman in the small town and doesn’t hesitate to brag about it. Ray’s the kind of guy every woman wants to bring home to meet her mother — as long as that mother is Mrs. Bates. Ray stuffs his cowboy boots with crushed beer cans to appear taller and walks with what is clearly a painful swagger. Ray wears eye liner and paints moles on his cheek.

And late one evening — in an intense sucker-punch of an opening — Ray transcends even his own juvenile delinquency and slides comfortably into the role of homicidal maniac. His victims are two young women (Erin Brown and Ruby Larocca) camping in the woods. Their crime? They might be "lezzies." Ray, using a stolen shotgun, systematically opens fire while best friend Tim Bess (Alex Frost), and girlfriend Jennifer Fitch (Shay Astar) watch in horror, standing by and doing nothing to stop Ray. Ray later sends his friends back to his apartment to pick up shovels to bury the victims. Ray discovers, shortly after rummaging through the girls’ belongings and enjoying their food, that one of the girls has survived and has disappeared into the woods. She manages to escape and is picked up by a passing van.

Four years later, Ray is still a free man. The surviving woman, Elise, had been on life support, and the movie continues from the day she dies. Dee Wallace Stone (THE HOWLING, CRITTERS, THE FRIGHTENERS, ABOMINABLE), as Elise's mother, gives one of her finest performances, despite only a couple of minutes of screen time. Detective Charlie Schilling (Michael Bowen: KILL BILL Vol. 1) was never able to nail Ray for the crime, even though Ray was the only suspect. So Schilling, after Elise's death, resigns himself to catching Ray once and for all and spends a good deal of time harassing Ray and his friends. Ray responds to the pressure through private temper tantrums and failed blowjobs.

Lost Ray Pye

No one is safe from Ray. New girl in town Sally Richmond (Megan Henning), who happens to be dating Ed Anderson (Ed Lauter: KING KONG [1976], PYTHON, STARSHIP TROOPERS 2), forty years her senior and Schilling's best friend, is hit on by Ray on her first day working as a maid in the hotel Ray runs (and Ray’s mother owns). Sally rejects him, which turns out to be a huge mistake.

And Katherine Wallace (Robin Sydney: THE GINGERDEAD MAN), a free spirit with a troubled past, also new in town, becomes sexually involved with Ray. He quickly falls for Katherine. “What's the worst thing you've ever done?” she asks him, and after lying, finally confesses his crime. Instead of fearing him, the knowledge of the murders seems to attract her even more to Ray.

Adapted by writer/director Chris Sivertson (ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE, THE TOOLBOX MURDERS: AS IT WAS, MAY [editor]), from the novel by Jack Ketchum — THE LOST stays true to the book (THE LOST). While the movie began a bit over the top, it quickly evened out. Marc Senter's portrayal of Ray was intense yet human; Ray exuded those qualities you remember from the bullies and greaser wannabees in high school, the trouble maker whose friends were mindless drones, easily manipulated and eager to follow. Tim and Jennifer were caught up in the terror and admiration and followed Ray like trained puppies. Yet Ray had a sad, almost pathetic quality, from his insecurity about his height, to the nervous twitch when being interviewed yet again by Schilling. You never root for Ray because he's just so damned unredeemable, though you hope somehow he’ll see the errors of his ways. But he''s tasted blood, and for him, there's no turning back.

Unlike films that explode too soon and never quite find their middle ground (THE SHINING: a brilliant piece of filmmaking, but Nicholson's Torrance is so over the top from the first frame that you never quite buy into Torrance's slow slide into alcoholic madness), director Sivertson slows it down a notch, humanizing Ray, giving the audience a chance to catch its breath and at the same time, developing the characters and building the suspense until the violent, gut-wrenching finale.

Shades of RIVER'S EDGE and MYSTIC RIVER in its gritty, visceral portrayal of small town murder, and with performances never less than wonderful, often powerful, THE LOST is a triumph in independent filmmaking. Produced by Lucky (MAY) McKee.

Five Shriek Girls

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This review copyright 2006 E.C.McMullen Jr.

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THE LOST is the first Jack Ketchum novel ever made into a movie.

Read the review of the novel, THE LOST.

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THE LOST

Read Monica J. O'Rourke's interview with
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