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The Lost (2006)
Director: Chris Siverston

review by Gary McMahon

Jack Ketchum is an author whose work I've long admired. His stories are powerful, violent and often filled with a great deal of righteous anger. The Lost is the first film adaptation I've seen of Ketchum's work and, if it can be taken as a yardstick, the film bodes well for future screen forays into Ketchum's world.

Ray Pye (Marc Senter), a man who puts crushed beer cans in his cowboy boots to make him look taller, decides on impulse to kill two girls he stumbles across out camping in the woods. Ray drags his friends Tim (Alex Frost) and Jennifer (Shay Astar) into this opportunistic slaying, demonstrating his power over them.

Four years later the murders remain unsolved, but the local police still suspect that Ray was involved. Retired officer Ed Anderson (Ed Lauter) and his ex-partner Detective Charlie Schilling (Michael Bowen) are even actively pursing evidence against him. Anderson, who is in a relationship with a girl young enough to be his granddaughter, wants to see Ray put away for his crimes, and helps Charlie from the sidelines while agonising over his private life. An ever-tightening circle of events begins to squeeze Ray, and when he meets new girl things start to lurch rapidly out of control.

Ray's hold on Tim and Jennifer has if anything increased since the night of the murders, and he torments his sometime girlfriend Jennifer by sleeping with a succession of small town lovelies attracted by his carefully crafted tough-guy persona. Ray is a fascinating character - one half mother-fearing wimp, one half absolute raging psychopath - and Senter's performance digs deep beneath the skin of this frightening individual to bring him to sizzling life.

The ending, which involves just about every woman Ray has ever encountered, is painful to watch, as what's left of the man's sanity completely snaps and he goes on a psychotic spree that ends in a hostage situation in an abandoned woodland cottage. The climax is tense, bloody and oddly moving - I was gripped right up until the end credits.

A very good adaptation of an excellent novel, The Lost really comes into its own in the third act. Never hampered by its obviously limited budget, the film boasts decent production values, solid direction, and a great score. The script rattles along at a high pace, with some nice, quirky character details sprinkled throughout, and the cast - particularly Senter - do the material justice.
The Lost

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