Studio: Gravitas Ventures
Director: Christian Sesma
Writer: Christian Sesma, Rochelle Vallese, Kenneth Owens
Producer: Rochelle Vallese, Christian Sesma
Stars: Rochelle Vallese, Robert Davi, Lin Shaye, Derek Mears, Jenni Blong, Chelsea Ricketts, Vyto Ruginis, Maria Olsen, Luke Goss
When a memory gap results in a missing sister and miraculously cured cancer, a woman begins to suspect that an alien conspiracy might be at work.
There are genre movies that bungle things so badly as to be insulting. One can’t help but watch a train wrecking while imagining the creators mustache twirling and belly laughing about an audience too stupid to notice that no one cared.
That’s not the case here. “Lost Time” is a different kind of disappointment. Director Christian Sesma and company made a technically competent film that they can be proud of. They also made one that cannot be recommended for satisfying entertainment value. What hobbles this effort isn’t a disregard for filmmaking standards and audience expectations, though. Rather, it is a slavish dedication to being so strictly conventional that any inkling of personality is sapped by a basic approach to movie production.
Valerie should be thankful that her terminal cancer inexplicably cured itself. The rapid regeneration of her health and her hair can be traced back to a bright light on a remote road that disabled her car and created a gap in her memory. Unfortunately, whatever took that “lost time” also took Valerie’s sister. Now she is obsessed with finding her sibling along with the answers to what happened that fateful night. And the key to unlocking those secrets lies with a mysterious UFO abduction expert who appears to know more than he lets on.
“Lost Time” has honest intentions in creating alien abduction sci-fi horror. Those intentions happen to be misguided, too. Boosted by a bevy of familiar actors and a quality look, the camera is always right where it needs to be, the editing is tight, and everything initially clicks on a surface level. Yet no matter how polished the appearance is, there remains an underlying feeling of watching an unsure director cautiously dipping toes in play-it-safe waters. And “Lost Time” never has a chance at peeking its head above a drowning tide of routine.
What’s more typical than showing the passage of time with a driving/walking/traveling montage? Filling it with flashbacks and setting it to a melancholy pop song. When time rewinds, a bright flash appears and the subsequent sequence drops into slow motion. A tear-jerking moment is shot with characters clutching hands in close-up as the soundtrack swells. A wacky neighbor is added to the cast because, well, everyone else uses wacky neighbors for comic relief, right?
Nothing is poorly done, but the staging is unnecessarily overdramatic. Every scream is conveyed by an actor’s mouth gaping as widely as possible. Surprise is sold with eyelids pulled back just as far. Flair includes character traits such as a villain stroking his restrained victim’s hair like the cat in a Bond villain’s lap while explaining his diabolical scheme. Performances never quite reach a pitch bordering on camp, though they remain out of control enough to fail at being believable.
“Lost Time” is also not above letting a little vanity weigh it down. To say that the closing song is out of place for the tone would be an understatement. The upbeat track would be more fitting for a teen drama on the CW. Its placement is explained by a songwriting credit for co-star Rochelle Vallese, who also shares credits as a screenwriter, producer, and music supervisor. Sadly, this is one example where doing a favor for a friend of the film isn’t always in the movie’s best interest.
Initial curiosity in where the plot might be headed balances things until the commitment to routine and overdone theatrics becomes too much to take seriously. Lead actress Rochelle Vallese’s asthmatic-like bouts of exasperated breathing after a nightmare vision take an annoying tone after the twelfth instance. Playing a Lurch-like role, Derek Mears delivers dialogue in an accented manner more quizzical than it is chilling. What it comes down to is a cast given freedom to follow their own directions when a more confident lasso could have wrangled everything together into a more controlled rodeo.
Once act three turns a corner into plot twists seemingly designed for speeding towards a resolution, and away from making sense, “Lost Time” is already buried under a mismanaged formula for making a risk-free film. It doesn’t come across that the filmmakers are trying to take an easy way out, merely playing it safe to a fault. “Lost Time” tries too hard to be a conventional sci-fi thriller and not hard enough to speak in its own unique voice.
Review Score: 40