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  • Writer's pictureMartyn Wakefield


Dir. Ryan Gosling

Reviewer. Martyn Wakefield

Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut is a spellbinding mix of inspiration and gritty storytelling. Gosling has received a lot of stick for plagiarizing his idols or any other aspiring director this may be something of a credit with the output seen here. Adam Wingard was praised for his work on bringing back the 80’s with THE GUEST yet peel back at the layers and there is the canvas painted by John Carpenter not hidden but on show for all to see.

Hidden here, behind the Lynchian nightmare and Refn inspired shots, is something of a gem that only those who appreciate a keen eye for film making will discover. It may be true that Gosling brings nothing new to the genre and doesn’t challenge the cinema goer to a new experience, instead he takes us on a tour de force through the journey of Bones (Iain De Caestecker). A young teen trying against all odds to fight the inevitable downward spiral that has led to the downfall of the lost American town he surrounds himself in.

Living with his mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) and infant brother, Bones is kept behind to steal copper and scavenge for earnings that will keep the roof over their head but when Billy falls behind, her relationship with her Bank manager leads to some dark corners of a lost town where a club satisfies dark desires to macabre extremes. Saved from insanity by neighbour Rat (Saoirse Ronan), the pair look to end the curse of this Lost River (a name given to the towns drowned out by the creation of reservoirs) that sees the few townsfolk terrorised by local kingpin, Bully (Matt Smith).

Cinematographer Benoit Debie (SPRING BREAKERS, IRREVERSIBLE) manages to replicate the finesse of Refn’s previous classics DRIVE and ONLY GOD FORGIVES but it is Goslings story of hope in a hopeless town that brings together the heart of LOST RIVER. From score to effects, this is the best made horror film that never was. Sinister from the beginning yet heart warming to the end, Bones’ journey is one of heartache and torture that gives sympathy to the vulnerable and fear for the tension. While De Caestecker sets himself the task of a career beating performance, it is ‘Doctor Who’ star Matt Smith who gives the film its star performance. From the first moments to the last, his screen presence is unignorable and terrifying at every scene. Whether it’s chanting down a mega phone or hovering creepily over the innocent Rat, he will send shivers down the spine of any cinema goer and Whovian alike.

This film may not be scary but it’s evident that the inspiration of Finch, Bava and Argento are all present. There are moments that will have you on the edge of your seat and others curled in a ball anticipating what will happen next, a feeling that is passed through the screen as the spirit of these hopeless people and the inevitable leaves the viewer hanging in the balance for what is next to come. Its message is softer than any horror film but behind the camera, Gosling shares a vision with some of the greatest visionaries and one we don’t mind sharing with him. With its comparisons to the greats it is an achievement that LOST RIVER is even a rival. Never does it falter to a cheap imitation, rather the opposite and is a film that wears its inspiration on its sleeves and certainly for fans of Lynch and Refn need to check this out.

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