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Lost After Dark (Blu-ray Review)

Lost After DarkIf you thought the 80s were dead — think again! On September 1st, Anchor Bay Entertainment goes full 80s retro with Lost After Dark, a loving but harrowing homage that takes audiences back to the decade when slashers ruled the silver screen.  The exciting directing debut of writer/director Ian Kessner, Lost After Dark proudly features visceral, old-school prosthetic “kills,” and pop songs pulsing to an electronic beat. So thrown on a pair of acid wash jeans and go full-on tubular with Lost After Dark!  Produced by Goldrush Entertainment’s Eric Gozlan and co-written by Bo Ransdell, Lost After Dark features Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn),Eve Harlow (“The 100″), Stephan James (Selma), Jesse Camacho (Kick-Ass 2), Elise Gatien (Diary Of A Wimpy Kid: Dog Days), Alexander Calvert (Lost Boys: The Tribe), Lanie McAuley (Scarecrow), and David Lipper (Black Widower), as well as fun cameos from Sarah Fisher (“Degrassi: The Next Generation”) and Rick Rosenthal (Director of Halloween II & Halloween: Resurrection).

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Film 

Spring Ball, 1984.  Adrienne, a straight-A student, joins her quarterback crush Sean and some friends in sneaking out of their high school dance for some unsupervised mayhem.  The teens’ party plans hit a snag when they run out of gas on a deserted road.  They head out on foot and discover a rundown farmhouse where they hope to find help.  Instead they find themselves at the mercy of Junior Joad, a cannibal killer from an urban legend. After the brutal murder of one of their friends, the group’s quest for help becomes one of survival. Will anyone survive the night?

I’ve been teased with films like this before.  Ti West’s House of the Devil is the gold standard for making a modern vintage horror film (or whatever you call the process).  There were some raves for one called The Sleeper a few years back, so I sought that out and was sourly disappointed.  Just because you tell us its an 80s slasher and people wear 80s clothes does not mean is a full on throwback.  There is much more work to be done.  Your film should be convincing enough that some might actually believe it is from that era.

Unfortunately, Lost After Dark doesn’t quite accomplish that.  It doesn’t have the patience to be that kind of film and it is lazy in a few dimensions.  For example, they tell us it 1984.  If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll note that I caught THIS while watching it (You could argue its intentional or a joke, but I really don’t think it is).  The techniques, edits, acting and camera angles on the film are all very modern.  Yes, you put the grainy-grindhouse filter on it to make it appear “old” but that’s not enough to do the trick.  And even that isn’t consistent, its kind of done in a “when they want to” or an “oh snap, forgot to put the filter on!” type way.  I will give them that the opening and closing scenes of the film they did very well.  Why not put the effort in to make the whole film like that?

Luckily, this slasher homage is a strong enough film on its own to have me not caring as much about the false advertisement on what they were selling.  I was absolutely in love how they toyed and played with conventions and expectations.  The film has a good sense of humor and doesn’t take itself very serious, but indeed knows how to crank up intensity when it has to, also providing solid jump scares.  Since this is supposed to be old school horror, the CGI is kept to a minimum and the film primarily uses practical effects for its gore and it does succeed.  There are some moments where I didn’t understand why they didn’t show more, but maybe it just didn’t look good in the end.

As a solid slasher that has its foot in the 80s, I think Lost After Dark does a pretty good job.  Its pacing is a little off.  None of the kids start dying off for the LONGEST time, and there’s a random character that is thrown in just to be killed at one point because I think they knew that.  It starts off pretty good, drags for a bit, then kicks into a good gear.  One thing the film isn’t, is predictable and that keeps it fun and moving when the chase begins.  Fans of slashers should definitely check it out, but in terms of style and craft; be warned it doesn’t even sniff something of House of the Devil‘s masterpiece work.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  This image features intentional distortions in it throughout as its trying to be some film stock of a 1980s low budget slasher film.  Despite that, the image is sharp and full of detail.  The picture is bold and vibrant, looking nice and new (Which is, I guess, something they might not want me to say? Haha)

Depth:  Depth is fine and above average.  Movements are very smooth and natural.  Objects and people feel loose and free in their environments.

Black Levels:  Blacks are inky and feature a minimal amount of crushing.  In some of the very dark scenes there is some detail hidden in further out shots.

Color Reproduction:

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent throughout.  The image features plenty of facial detail like freckles, scrapes, stubble and wrinkles.

Noise/Artifacts:  Considering the grain and dirt are intentional filters on the image, this is very clean.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a really nice and more than adequate track for experiencing the film.  Its got fun up and down volume waves to craft some nice jump scares and to ramp up tension.  The track is very clean and features a healthy balance of score, effects and vocals.

Low Frequency Extension:  Impalings, musical hits, walls breaking down, bus engines and more are wonderfully rev’d up by your subwoofer.

Surround Sound Presentation:  The front speakers bring the action full force with placement and movement accuracy.  The rear speakers mainly are used for some creep atmospheric ambiance.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and clear.  Its crisp and you can make out every mumble or loudly spoken word.

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Extras 

Lost After Dark features no supplemental materials.

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Summary 

Lost After Dark isn’t that full immersed 80s slasher I wanted it to be, but its also not bad at all.  The film is fun and plays with most of the conventions you’re accustomed to and turns them on their head.  Fans will no doubt enjoy this movie.  Technical merits are very strong, but its very disappointing there are no supplemental interviews or a commentary to accompany this.  I’m sure horror fans would actually want to know more about this movie.  Aside from that, I think the film and its visual and audio performance are enough to give this disc a soft recommend at the fight retail price.

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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