Reviewbr> "What are you going here? Three people died here, kids like you." - Zippo
Two cousins, Brad and Gary, are headed out on a weekend surfing trip up the coast from Sydney. Brad's mom informs the boys that no girls should be involved, which naturally means they are. Brad's girlfriend Emily is enigmatically along for the ride, and Gary's teasing date is Tracy who has firm ideas on how to keep him interested. The boys aim for some surfing, beer, and sex; the girls just seem to want a weekend away with no strings attached. Naturally tensions rise within the group as they make their beach camp site. There's a disturbingly eerie feel to the beach, with Tracy in particular being paranoid about staying there.
Enter Zippo, a sort of scavenger who lives near the beach in the scrubland our team are also camping out in. Zippo seems to know a lot more than he is letting on, and has a relationship with the rather na´ve Emily that Brad is unaware of. Things start to spiral out of control as the weekend turns into a nightmare with no possibility of waking up from. Let's hit the waves and see what might be lurking on the beach.
I actually reviewed Lost Things, Director Martin Murphy's last movie, about a decade ago and at the time gave it a pretty bad review due to the film slipping into a then trend in dark genre film making, If you had seen one you had pretty much seen them all as a couple of hits spawned any number of imitators. The DVD has been sitting on my review pile for a while, hey that thing never goes down, so this evening thought I would crank up the player, slip the movie in, and see if I was right about Lost Things first time round. To be honest I got it completely wrong the first time as this time round I grooved to the superb plot, unwillingness of Director Sewell to give anything away, and the overall eerie yet wonderfully beautiful locations. Taken out of context of the dark genre movement of the time Lost Things resonates as an adult movie removed from the normal teen orientated dross littering up cinemas. How on earth Director Martin Murphy didn't go on to fame and fortune remains a mystery based on the exceptionally composed and mystery drenched scenes unfolding in this movie.
For those after a quick solution to things, preferably with a masked killer made to order due to some past wrong, there's going to be a great deal of disappointment. Lost Things doesn't follow a single timeline, doesn't explain who survives, and for sure gives only hints as to the motives of the antagonist. You are on your own when it comes to working out just what happened, Director Murphy has bigger fish to fry than taking time out of his schedule to explain everything to the smallest detail. Don't look at me, I'm not about to explain it, though the Accent DVD does come with a number of interviews etc. that promise revelation for those who normally dig into the extras. I didn't dial into the extras as my belief is any good Writer/Director combination will show their hand by closing credits, it's up to the audience to interpret what that hand might be.
So it's a mystery shrouded in time jumps, all wrapped up in enough mysticism to have new agers reaching for their crystals. Director Murphy does however throw out some visual clues to help you out; you'll just need to notice them. Lost Things is one of those movies that play with your head. The time lines can't be trusted, what has happened resurfaces in new shots, and the future reverts itself into the past, while we the Audience are left wondering exactly what we are watching as the movie progresses. There's lot of visual clues that the wide eyed and bushy tailed will pick up on, with the motifs coming thick and fast for those with a background in dark genre. Big question for mine was what exactly did Zippo represent? Couldn't quite work it out, he's either some sort of spiritual representation, an out and put psycho, or just another one of those bogan Aussies with the pseudo intelligence based around outrageous claims, no not for a minute did I believe his assertions that he was 1000 years old or the incarnation of Satan. I probably missed some clues as to how the character was operating, but heck the prologue through me on this aspect.
More clues are coming at you in Stephen Sewell's above average script, it's all in the dialogue folks, pays to listen during this movie. We learn some tid bits such as three kids were murdered at the location and another one is missing, Gary is the only character thinking about a future, Emily sees no future for any of them, and there's a whole serpent and the snake charmer linkage that a visual clue will dial in. Sterling stuff, and I was certainly all over the concepts being thrown my way in comparison to some of the amusing theories about Lost Things being tossed around the interwebs. The script is a solid piece of writing with Sewell keeping his timelines correct while jumping all over them like a cat on blow.
There's definitely a theme going down in this movie and for mine it's all about the fear of growing up, of leaving the comfortable confines of school and family behind for the adult world. The theme is there for you to groove on but you can comfortably give it a miss if not wanting to delve into deep thoughts about the human condition. It's not required intact, with Lost Things working perfectly fine as an entertainment piece.
Behind the camera Director Murphy takes his Central Coast locations and creates an eerie brooding atmosphere with them. The sense of isolation and inherent danger is palpable during the course of the movie and I was getting some chills sent my way as Murphy has half glimpsed images to the side of frames while showing enigmatic scenes on the beach. Once again a lot of visual clues but Murphy wraps it in a haunting atmosphere that just drips menace. Props are used sparingly but to devastating effect, a mannequin, a bunch of flowers, a ring, everything has meaning but the Director respects his audience and is shrewd enough to allow them to join the dots for themselves. I haven't seen this sort of evocation of the Australian environment as hostile a place since Long Weekend (1979) demonstrated urban folk have no place outside their careful constructed streets, and Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) brought the dreamtime. In all three movies, white middle class folk are shown to be unprepared for what might lurk away from their cloistered environments. Murphy knows exactly what he is doing with his shoots, the sea is a constantly moving focus, but what exactly does it's strangely unsettling waters hide?
The cast may have been young and inexperienced but besides a slight edging toward being irritating handled what is fairly demanding roles with some solid performances. The surfer boys come off as surfer boys, and the girls, well what you would expect with surfers. Steve Le Marquand (Zippo) is appropriately menacing and shows glimpse of both pure madness and pure evil, a commanding performance.
There's a slight touch of gore, stab wounds, bit nothing that will have the audience vomiting in the aisles. The violence is quick with the emphasis more on the after effects than on the actual acts themselves.
T&A is coming down the line with all actors getting their tops off, so the perv factor is happening for all segments of the audience. Knock yourself out there kids, I've avoided the obvious stills so ScaryMinds cannot be accused of titillation, though the pause button got a work out.
So I had a real good time with Lost Things and would count the low budget Aussie Indie as one of the classic horror flicks from this part of the World. There are interesting concepts, great visuals, and a plot line that must be deciphered with careful consideration of what is shown on screen. Not a movie for those who like things neon sign posted but for the rest of us one to rock on with. Recommended to those who like their dark genre outings on the serious side.