So last week I reviewed a film from the 80s considered by many to be a classic, and may have dropped hints in that review that it wasn’t my favourite period; and so to carry on that point, one of my correspondents (thank you, Ian) sent me this film to review.
I knew of this film before watching it. I had frequently been told that it was a film I should watch, given its cult nature and unique appeal, but in all honestly, it just never appealed to me.
As I’ve already said, the 80s aren’t my favourite period by any stretch of the imagination I think it’s an incredibly over-exposed era at this point, and nostalgia for it only ever seems to grow, given the rate of re-releases and remasters of films from the era, and The Lost Boys seems to be one such film that tickles people’s nostalgia gland.
The film sees two boys move with their mother to Santa Clara, the so-called ‘murder capital of the world’. Before too long, the older sibling is drawn into the wrong crowd, the blood-sucking kind of crowd, and the younger of the two must recruit two local kids to fight the vampires head-on.
Allow me to disappoint you right out of the gate readers, I really didn’t think too much of this film.
I can understand its appeal as a product of its time, it’s relatively stylish and the musical choices are inspired, but beyond that, I found nothing compelling about it.
I think its biggest mistake was trying to juggle two different genres without committing wholeheartedly to be either. It tries to be a comedy in some parts and then tries a bit of horror, but both aspects fall flat as it never feels like it’s committed to either side and subsequently comes off half-baked. It wasn’t funny enough to be classified as a true comedy, and neither was it disturbing enough to call it a horror, despite its best efforts to be both.
I suppose in some ways it tries to have its cake and eat it too, with its tone wavering drunkenly between camp and serious, I feel it really could have done to take itself a touch less seriously, as its straight-faced aspects make its camp nature look even more laughable.
Mind you, I suppose we have to expect camp from a film directed by the late Joel Schumacher, and it wasn’t the obstructive kind as seen in his Batman films had it perhaps leant more heavily into that aspect, it may have been more enjoyable, as it stands though, the film is fairly dour and unexciting.
The story might have even worked if the characters were more likeable, sadly they all sit on the ‘annoying’ side of the 80s character spectrum, and if they aren’t annoying they’re just plain dull.
Take the vampires for instance, for the whole film, we’re expected to buy them as the super-cool bad guys, but besides Kiefer Sutherland’s character, none of them gets any semblance of personality, they just stand there and sneer constantly, dressed like they’d all been covered head to toe in glue and kicked through Hot Topic. How are we supposed to see them as threats when we only get to see them as vampires once? Furthermore, their threadbare characterisation makes them impossible to care about, they’re all just paper cut-outs, backgrounds for Kiefer Sutherland.
The non-vampires don’t come off much better, to be honest. Admittedly, I have only ever seen Corey Feldman in this and The Goonies but seeing this made me question how he ever got cast so much in the 80s. He’s a charisma vacuum with all the acting nous of a stale loaf of bread, and the other Corey, Corey Haim, wasn’t much better, he spends the runtime shouting his lines and being an annoying, aloof little jerk; and this is the character we’re supposed to sympathise with I remind you, by the end of the film I was half hoping the vampires would win, but I didn’t care about them either.
That pretty much sums up my feelings towards The Lost Boys. Just an overwhelming sense of apathy. I didn’t care for the characters, the story was messy and unengaging, and if you’re not into the 80s sense of charm, then you’re not welcome to The Lost Boys party. All of this I could stomach if the film had any semblance of self-awareness about it, but as I’ve said, it doesn’t. It’s not completely straight-faced, but it doesn’t embrace its ridiculousness like it needed to to make the film work. By refusing to commit to a tone it just seems wishy-washy and muddled.
I know I’m probably in a minority here as The Lost Boys seems to be fairly well-regarded amongst a certain portion of cinema-goers, maybe not a universal appeal, but definitely as a cult feature, and to me, it’s just not got the sense of fun that epitomises most other cult films, it’s not even a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ film, as it’s fairly well put together and is at the very least well designed and visually engaging, it just fails to bring any of that engagement into its narrative.
In conclusion, then, I was very disappointed by The Lost Boys. I wanted to be proved wrong on my stance on the 80s, but this film just serves to re-affirm those negatives views I had going in. It’s not even terrible enough for me to hate it that much, I just didn’t care, and that’s the worst kind of reaction to have to any film.