A young military woman, named Fern, is on a bus and is presumably done with her tour of duty and heading for home. She arrives in a small town in the Missouri Ozarks, and is there on family business. Her father has recently passed away and she is there to find her estranged brother. While staying at her late father’s house she ventures out into the woods and finds a lost boy there. He will only give his first name, Cecil, but won’t share his last name because he feels it’s too dangerous to share too much information about one’s self. Fern doesn’t wish to take on the responsibility of caring for Cecil as she has plans to move on once she finds her brother Billy. In the meantime she “befriends” (you can do the math here) a social worker named Mike while at the local bar. She later asks for his assistance in trying to learn who this abandoned boy is and track down his family. Mike tries to take a picture of the boy, but when he’s not looking Cecil deletes the photo from his mobile phone, claiming that to someone’s picture is to capture that perosn’s spirit. Fern also finds herself starting to get sick right at the same time she brings Cecil out of the woods and into her home. Her energy levels are low and some of her hair starts to go white. While visiting the local town doctor she learns of a demon known as the Tatterdemalion, an evil spirit that can only live in the woods unless escorted out and into a person’s home. From there it will sap the strength of its victims, which is how it sustains itself. Fern must then take steps to learn more about Cecil, and if it is the Tatterdemalion, how can she defeat it?
This is a horror movie like no other. While the initial premise felt a bit cliché, the idea that this took place in the Ozarks where superstitious beliefs continue to live, sounded intriguing. From the moment we meet Fern we see that something is not quite right with her. She gives the appearance of having suffered through some type of psychological or emotional trauma during her tour of duty, and yet she is reluctant to say anything about what it is. It helps that she was also well played by the multi-faceted Leven Rambin. Having acted in in a wide range of genre films (The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson), as well as directing movies on her own, she understands all of the different acting tones that are needed to give Fern a fully realized character, even when Fern doesn’t share openly all the problems that she has endured.
Then there is the biggest surprise of the movie, and that is Landon Edwards as Cecil. Landon was a local and only learned about auditions for the role through a newspaper advertisement. His performance is both vulnerable and creepy, which helps to keep the viewer on the fence as to who he really is. However to reveal more details about the nature of his performance and the character motivations would be to spoil the details of this film. Suffice to say, both Rambin and Edwards played beautifully off of each other. Their on-screen chemistry is delightful to watch and did a masterful job at keeping me engrossed in the story.
Initially this film, presumably when released for the film festival circuit, was titled Tatterdemalion, and it ran 1 hour 45 minutes. Unfortunately when we here at TG2Studios received the screener for this film from Breaking Glass Pictures, it was this very edit that we watched. As the movie ended I felt it was too long, that it was edited poorly, and had scenes that we were either too drawn out or just unnecessary. However, the film was cut to a 96 minute version, that being Lost Child. I can only assume that the cutting of 9 minutes gave it the tightness and better story narrative that it required.
With Lost Child we are given a story that is about healing. We are meant to assume that the lost child is Cecil, and while that presentation is not necessarily inaccurate, we come to learn through Fern’s character development that she too has become something of a lost child. There is trauma in her life that she experienced prior to her time in the military that informs who she has become and why she is lost. Her encounter with Cecil, the other lost child, provides a healing that she has not expected. The question for you, dear viewer, is does it provide the same healing for Cecil, or is he indeed the Tatterdemalion that the local folklore accuses him of being?
Given that I watched Tatterdemalion as opposed to Lost Child, I have elected to give this movie the benefit of the doubt in believing that the newer edit will improve the storytelling.
With that I will give Lost Child 4 out 5 rusty nails!
Lost Child will play in select theaters on September 14th, and will be released on DVD/VOD on September 18th.
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