Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Lost Boys (1987) Film Review
The Lost Boys
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Struggling to cope financially and emotionally after her divorce, Lucy Emerson (the ever-reliable Dianne Wiest) takes her two sons to stay with her father in a small town. There the older boy, Michael, becomes besotted with a mysterious girl called Star, whilst his geeky younger brother, Sam, hangs around in comic shops and struggles to make friends. When Sam comes to suspect that Michael is being lured into a gang of dirt bike riding, spiky-haired vampires, he enlists the help of self-proclaimed experts the Frog brothers to try and save him. But what is really going on, and will he be forced to kill his brother?
The Lost Boys is, without a doubt, one of the most popular and influential vampire movies of all time. An attempt to show that the brat pack could perform in different genres, it is essentially a standard brat pack movie with standard horror trappings tacked on, paving the way for the likes of Buffy with its teen soap element almost as important as the fangs, but the exuberance with which it is played out has assured it enduring cult status.
Massively popular in its time, overshadowing the more sophisticated Near Dark, it was largely responsible for popularising the vampire genre with Eighties teenagers, and has been liberally stolen from ever since. It is also remembered as one of the quintessential films of its era, with a glossy, effects-laden style which set the standard for years to come.
Few films carry rock soundtracks well, but the context of this one works superbly; likewise its use of biker and goth aesthetics inspired a generation. Kiefer Sutherland, as the charismatic vampire rebel whose appeal to Michael is almost as important as Star's, won himself a legion of new fans. Most of those who fell for this film when it came out still love it today. There's just one problem: it really isn't very good.
Like all the really successful brat pack movies, The Lost Boys is desperately shallow, but it's also pretentious enough to make that difficult to hide. Its moody pontification is impressive to kids, potentially endearing to adults, and amusing the first couple of times, but on repeat viewings it starts to drag, the paper thin plot insufficient to bear its weight.
Cory Haim is engaging as Sam, and the Frog brothers (Jason Feldman and Jamison Newlander) add much needed humour, but Jason Patric's Michael is far too dull to give a damn about, and his relationship with the vacuous Star (Jami Gertz) is convincing only in so far as we assume she's the first girl ever to have spoken more than two words to him. She may be nice to look at, but her personality is barely visible beneath the cliches, and from the very beginning she seems more connected to Sutherland's character; he, in turn, certainly grabs viewers' attention, but only by imitating a succession of better-played movie anti-heroes from ages past.
The vampire theme is refreshing in that it's told pretty straight, with no heavy-handed metaphors to trip up the story, but it isn't very well developed and the supposedly surprising ending is easy to see coming.
Ultimately, this is a film for nostalgic fans and for kids with the appropriate dark leanings, but it's not going to wow anyone else.Reviewed on: 11 May 2007