Directed by Steve Gibson Starring David Gries, Jami Tennille Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Beautifully understated and incredibly intriguing, indie film The Lost Within, from filmmaker Steve Gibson, is a slow-burning thriller that delivers an almost sumptuous viewing experience that is equally unnerving and dark. Journalist-cum-would-be-novelist Jon (David Gries) is doing research on a book he is writing about reclusive people. Whilst his initial research into the topic is sadly unsatisfying, often paying leads for no reason who turn out to be rather resentful of his intrusion, his luck turns when he finds a subject that more than peaks his interest, who may just be willing to cooperate. Residing in a cheap motel is a woman called Agatha (Jami Tennille), who has a reputation around the motel of being anti-social, curmudgeonly, and perhaps violent. Jon decides to pursue her as a possible source for his book, only to find himself becoming increasingly fascinated and obsessed with Agatha, going to extreme lengths to unlock the mystery surrounding her and the reason for her isolation.
There is a fantastic tenacity to the character of Jon, who is also polite and sensitive, that makes him the perfect entryway for audiences to journey through The Lost Within. As he traverses the odd landscape of Agatha’s world, liaising with anyone who happens to know anything about her, there is a slow-release of acute preoccupation that builds and builds, but not in a way which feels overtly forced, or falling into typical dramatic conventions. It is a film that has a perfect sense of pacing, thrilling when it needs to be and remaining intelligent throughout. It has subtlety where most would have a hammering effect.
Watch the official Movie Trailer for The Lost Within above.
The performances are incredible; Gries, is phenomenal as the lead, revelling in a character who has many facets to his personality. Some of the lighter, but equally enjoyable, moments in The Lost Within are when Gries is having banter with the staff at the motel. These comedy moments create lovely breaks in the otherwise intense thriller atmosphere. Tennille is simply immense. Her character is delivered with poise and grace throughout, never losing the sense of mystery which is the lynchpin of the movie. This is enhanced by Tennille’s curt dialogue, stiff body language, and intense eyes which keep the audience feeling uncomfortable whenever she is on screen.
Alongside the great turns from the cast, audiences will also be able to enjoy some excellent moments of cinematography. During an early scene outside the motel, the camera sweeps along the ground, revealing the activity going on, finally landing upon legs of a woman (we assume later is Agatha). This had an almost supernatural feel, and was an effective way of starting the movie. Another excellence sequence involves a window curtain and a man mowing the lawn, to say more would be a spoiler, but it was an incredible moment of cinematic genius!
The Lost Within wonderfully explores the dark characters it contains. This is intelligent filmmaking and an example of how to deliver thrilling drama without resorting to cheap tricks or cliches. Aside from a few scenes of wooden dialogue, it is near perfect.