Tuesday, 5 August 2008

LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE review

This straight to DVD sequel to the 1987 teen horror classic had a rough ride from the start. Many fans were concerned that it would tarnish the reputation of the original, and was a last stab at cashing in on the name before it faded too far into obscurity. It is easy to cast a nostalgic glow over the first film and the cult following it garnered. The Lost Boys is one of those films where the diehard fanbase are going to be very hard to please, let alone impress, with a DVD follow up twenty years after the fact. It wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking, but the original movie had a strong cast and a nice twist on the tired old vampire yarn. The idea of staying young and partying forever is something that captured many people’s imaginations, and thus from the onset this film was going to get it in the neck (ouch) if it wasn’t up to scratch.

So how does this film fare? Fans and critics alike feared the worst, but have been curious nonetheless. The most powerful image from the first film, and indeed the most memorable character, was played by Kiefer Sutherland, and now the main vampire character, Shane, is played by Kiefer’s younger half-brother, Angus. This is a logical bit of casting, which helps keep this film in the same universe as the first. His portrayal of an undead party animal, and undoubtedly leader of the tribe, is the standout of the film by far.

The film itself is an entertaining piece of fluff that doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and offers an updated take on the story of the original movie without being a complete rehash. There’s more gore, more sex and more violence than the original, which helps hold the attention. The running time is kept lean and thus the story doesn’t hang around long enough to annoy you. While the cinematography isn't anywhere near as inventive as the original, it suffices.

The inclusion of Corey Feldman, reprising his role from the 1987 film, is highly amusing, and he gets a bunch of incredibly cheesy lines that are delivered with tongue planted firmly in cheek. This is a film about vampires partying and people hunting them down, and vice versa. It doesn’t try to be high art, and hits all the right beats to keep the audience watching until the grisly climax. It is the anarchic streak in the vampires that keeps this grounded as a ‘Lost Boys’ film, a good example of which is the house party scene in which one of them guts another vampire for kicks, then shoving him over into a bush as he tries frantically to pick his own innards up from the patio, while drunken partygoers look on in horror. It is this sense of adolescent shenanigans that also adds some power to Shane’s malevolent presence- he's sinister where the other vamps are just snotty kids. The cast are uniformly okay- serviceable for a DTV sequel.

This is not a perfect film, but as entertainment, it serves its purpose. It is cheap, but doesn’t really look it that often. While not the grand return of the franchise fans were hoping for, it could have been much, much worse.

I give it a 6/10

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