Starring: Adam Weppler, Catherine Corcoran, Nicholas Tucci
Director: Erik Bloomquist
Running Time: 94 mins
Long Lost is an American film about a man who is brought to a large country mansion, and upon arrival, discovers that the people there may know him better than he knows himself.
Unpredictable and effectively atmospheric throughout, Long Lost proves a captivating and cagey slow-burn thriller, impressing with great mystery that walks a difficult tightrope and, for the most part, doesn’t fall off.
Unfortunately, however, when the film pushes the limits a little too much, it really falters, and struggles to recapture the essence of what makes it most enthralling.
But let’s start off with what makes the film work best, because – despite major misteps in its latter stages – Long Lost is an enjoyable and genuinely engrossing thriller, and that’s largely down to its sense of unease and mystery right from the start.
Built brilliantly throughout, the film is a genuinely cagey watch, bringing in elements of haunted house-like horror alongside a sleek yet unsettling tale of a fish out of water, pitting life’s winners against its losers in a way that’s often reminiscent of the brutal but enthralling Cruel Intentions.
Long Lost is never quite as unrelentingly dark as Cruel Intentions, but it does emulate a degree of that sleek and seductive atmosphere, impressively blending it with horror thrills that lead you to fall entirely under the film’s spell.
While it seems to be spelled out for us right at the start, there’s always something a bit off about why our main man is actually at this mansion, and why the people who claim to be close to him want so much to do with him, and it’s that mystery that really makes the movie tick.
Slowly bubbling with tension and unease throughout, the stranger the demands and actions of the hosts become, the more mysterious the story gets. And with that, the film plays a clever and bold game of brinksmanship that sees the more ridiculous moments actually play in to its brilliant intrigue, fostering genuine unpredictability as seemingly anything can happen next.
For the first two acts, Long Lost uses its patient pacing and cagey vibes to great effect, and provides genuinely captivating and unpredictable thrills on a consistent basis. However, by walking so close to the line with its mystery and surprises, the film is bound to go too far at some point, and that sadly proves the case in the final act.
Disappointingly, it shifts from an unnerving and mysterious watch into something a lot more superficial, and a lot more ridiculous. Suddenly, as things take a more high-octane turn in the final act, the movie is never as engrossing or atmospheric, but rather just a little silly, undermining its cleverly-built tension with cheap thrills, and finishing on a low note with a poor final twist.
The audacity is admirable, but Long Lost goes a little too far in its latter stages. Its tonal shift is abrupt, its final twist feels unearned (and frankly nonsensical when the film tries to explain it), and even the last moments of pathos never hit the same beats that the strongest moments of drama did earlier on.
In that, Long Lost comes to a really disappointing finish after having worked so well for the majority of its duration. There’s no denying it’s an enjoyable watch throughout, but the climax takes away the satisfying sense of thrills and unpredictability that was building so well earlier on.
But even so, I really did enjoy Long Lost. It’s a cagey, uneasy and captivating watch, and does a great job with a bold and mysterious story throughout, so that’s why I’m giving it a 7.0 overall.