★★★★ out of ★★★★★
Not strictly a horror movie, but it feels like one.
Directed by Erik Bloomquist.
Nobody gets their head chopped off. Nobody gets possessed by a demonic force from the depths of Hell. Nobody eats brains. In fact, they stuff their mouths with marshmallows for a game of “Chubby Bunny” and play tag, for pity’s sake! And that’s what’s most impressive about the character-driven, slow burning, Long Lost. While everything on the surface seems more or less normal, there’s a deep undercurrent of unease throughout the film that keeps the viewer off balance. A thick sense of impending doom that keeps you glued to the screen.
Partly, this is due to how the story unfolds. We follow young Seth [Adam Weppler; TV’s The Cobblestone Corridor (2016)] as he heads up to an opulent mansion to meet the mega-rich half-brother he never knew he had. Seth’s got no idea what to expect and neither does the audience. He drives the narrative; the audience is forced to experience everything right along with him.
And, while the musical score is put to good use to keep the tension high, it’s the performances that really bring it all home. Nicholas Tucci [You’re Next (2011)] as Seth’s brother, Richard, is a juggernaut of domineering rich guy assholeness. At times he almost seems to care about Seth in an unable-to-relate-to-real-people sort of way. At other times… Tucci could teach a class on How To Be Creepy.
With only three characters Long Lost needed a balance between bewildered Seth and aggro Richard. Writer/director Erik Bloomquist found that balance in Richard’s girlfriend, Abby [Catherine Corcoran; Terrifier (2016)]. Sometimes siding with Richard, sometimes siding with Seth. Peacemaker, confidant, seductress. She plays the middle ground perfectly and you never know exactly what her stake is in all of this.
Obviously, it’s the writing behind the characters that give them their engaging personalities and Long Lost has a lot going on in the writing department. Based on a story idea by the Bloomquist brothers, in addition to “Seth” actor Adam Weppler, the script comes across as being very organic. Dialog seems natural and reactions are realistic which combine to make the characters feel like real people. Creepy real people who are obviously hiding something, but real nonetheless.
On the technical side, the Long Lost filmmakers did a superb job. Sound quality is consistently good regardless of shooting location, lighting and camera angles add great depth to the film, and they couldn’t have picked a better mansion to film in.
It may not be “horror” in the strictest sense of the word, but it’s got a Black Mirror-esque quality that I found enjoyable. If you like character-based, psychological dramas, this movie was made with you in mind. And, as Bloomquist’s feature length debut, Long Lost has set him up as a writer/director to keep an eye on. Just thinking about what he could do with an actual horror movie makes me want to leave the lights on tonight…
Long Lost began a 30 city limited theatrical release on March 29. You can check the Official Facebook Page to see if a theater in your area has a showing.
The movie will be available for streaming exclusively through Amazon on April 10 with more platforms to follow.
Review by Robert Zilbauer.