Written by: Matt Molgaard
Directed by: P.J. Pesce
Cast: Tad Hilgenbrink, Angus Sutherland, Autumn Reeser
The dreadfully long-delayed Lost Boys sequel, Lost Boys: The Tribe is one of those movies that just gets better every time you watch it. The problem is, it gets better for all the wrong reasons, as it essentially becomes more enjoyable with every new imperfection we spot in the picture. The humor just expands as the miniscule misfires suddenly spring to life right before your eyes. You really are liking a film because it’s about as bad as it possibly could be.
The Lost Boys: The Tribe epitomizes the so-bad-it’s-good flick.
This is the king of them all, today’s Plan 9 from Outer Space. It’s the movie that makes talentless hacks want to be filmmakers, perpetuating the existence of hideous productions. Because, when they look at The Tribe, they genuinely believe they’re capable of making a stronger film.
But the immediate follow up to a true classic vamp flick is actually a bit perplexing, shall we say. The reason being, is there are just as many excellent moments as there are terrible, we just run into a sensory wall in the viewing experience, so confused by the terribleness of it all that our brains don’t slow down enough to identify and respect the shining seconds. And believe this: there are a lot of shining seconds in The Lost Boys: The Tribe.
The cinematography, in some spots, at some points in time, looks alarmingly impressive, and Barry Donlevy actually mimics, to great success some of the camera tricks utilized in the original film. The high-speed POV shots look top notch. There are transitions that call back to simpler times when subtle gimmicks were thoroughly explored as a result of technical and electron limitations. Take note of one scene, mid-way through the film when we transition from one focus to another and the transition begins with a close-up shot of a motorcycle’s circular headlight, slowly it fades into the juxtaposition of a full moon. That’s an old trick that still works perfectly. And it looks smooth, it really does.
There are a few aerial shots in the film that are just flat out gorgeous, and while I’m not entirely certain of the film’s actually on site filming locations, there’s a definite easy going, west coast vibe to the feature, and that comes out in dominant fashion during those aerial shots. These are strong qualities for any film to possess. They’re qualities that would have impressed on a much more noteworthy scale had the cast been axed and the screenplay undergone major overhauls.
Those two areas are the root of the wrongs in this film.
The cast never once works. Tad Hilgenbrink is terribly miscast in this flick. He’s a sarcastic, humorous guy who’s exceptional in that realm of performance. As a heroic, macho older brother determined to be a strong and positive role model for his younger sister, he’s a joke gone awry. He’s a very small man in stature, he’s got a baby face and kind eyes, and there’re absolutely no signs of an intimidating or imposing individual hidden in there, at all – and yet that’s exactly what he’s cast to be! A former pro surfer bad boy who got kicked off the circuit, is now looking to keep his younger sister (played by Autumn Reeser, who not only looks, but actually is older than Hilgenbrink) out of the clutches of scumbags on a proper path to success. Apparently someone forgot to tell him all of that, though, because he constantly looks confused and far more attracted (he’s so touchy=feely it’s legitimately repulsive) to Nicole than watchful. There’s a moment in the film in which he’s responding to his sister’s personal dealings with another male and he looks like a certifiably pissed off and jealous boyfriend. No joke. This role, was not meant to go to Hilgenbrink, who, for the record, I do typically (where the hell has he been?) like watching perform.
Moving past the problems with Hilgenbrink we land at the foot of the goofy looking Shane, played by Angus Sutherland. This dude, much like Hilgenbrink, looks absolutely nothing like he’s designed to. Sutherland, who – seriously – I believe was cast as a simple result of his last name, and nothing else, looks like a vampire leader in the Lost Boys sequel the way Cyndi Lauper looks like Denzel Washington in a Man on Fire remake. Okay? It couldn’t possibly be more wrong… it just couldn’t. The man oozes cheese through every single frame, and his supposed-to-be mysterious demeanor comes off as frequently uncertain as opposed to all knowing. And if you’re thinking he may have hit the intimidating factor out of the park because he’s a tall 6’3” fellow, you couldn’t be more wrong. Kiefer Sutherland was menacing because there was something dark in that young man’s life, away from the cameras. There was something savage inside of Kiefer that he was able to tap into and bring out in his role as David in the original film. Sutherland’s a fine actor, but he channeled something that transcends acting, and we could all see that in the original film. We could feel it. And we could feel the testosterone fueled machine that was Michael, working viciously to keep pace with his on-screen counterpart. It made for one-in-a-million chemistry. You’ll never find a faint trace of that chemistry in the sequel.
And that’s the greatest misfire of the film. Yes, the script is tremendously cheesy, and yes, the movie ends up looking more like a professional X-Games documentary than a vampire picture, but the snowball starts rolling from the feet of our two primary characters. I don’t for a moment feel that either man is a bad performer, but I feel, with conviction that they weren’t just badly cast, they were horrendously miscast in this instance. Neither of these men belonged anywhere near this film, and they both ended up at the heart of it. On one hand that’s one reason to return to the gloom of it all, on the other, it’s something that maybe we should be thankful for, as it guaranteed the third film in the Lost Boys franchise would hold its focus on the franchise’s remaining appeal: Corey Feldman. He’s got a fair role in The Tribe, but he’s the lead in The Thirst, the third film in the franchise, which just so happens to be a much more entertaining piece of work.
I won’t sit here and tell you that The Tribe becomes a better movie with each viewing, but I will reiterate my position that the film definitely becomes more entertaining with each viewing. It’s a good film to point at and laugh, and there are about a dozen different drinking games centered on the shittyness of the whole ordeal (and yes, you will likely be thoroughly intoxicated by the time the final act is in motion). There are a few little diamonds sprinkled throughout the movie, but finding them is akin to spotting the inescapable Easter Egg in an episode of The Walking Dead. So, if you’re actually on the hunt for a technically refined film, skip The Lost Boys: The Tribe. However, if you’re looking to get hammered and have a light hearted laugh at a pic, toss this one in the Blu-ray player, it’ll do its job.