This review will come in two parts.
Lost Boys: The Tribe as a stand-alone movie.
When viewed as your average “new millennium” horror film, it certainly fits the mold of the straight-to-DVD horror flicks that are being churned out of Hollywood, especially ever since Saw came out. Cookie-cutter plots, gore, sex, the basic package.
We have two young-adult-aged siblings forced to move to a new town, looking for friends. The friends they happen to find are the un-dead monsters who are terrorizing the local population. Sister falls for leader, brother marches in with backup to save her, slayings ensue. Happy ending!
Nothing exciting, nothing terribly creative.
One problem was the location used for Luna Bay. I know there’s mountains in California. But in the area that the movie is supposedly set in, you certainly wouldn’t look up and see a HUGE SNOW-COVERED MOUNTAIN RANGE in the background. Um, what the hell?! There’s a big mistake caught right on camera! The shots of Luna Bay itself were okay, although they looked more like a mix between Vancouver and the Oregon coast then the fake “California” town.
Another problem was acting. Very few of the performers made you like their characters or acted in believable ways. I’m not sure if this is because most of them are relative newcomers or what. (I’ll get into the script in the next section.) It was inconsistent at best. I do have to say that the boys playing the Tribe vampires did make me hate them and if that was their goal to be total assholes, then you guys accomplished that!
Overall, this is a movie I’d never watch more than once in my life. It’s not memorable in horror movie history at all. The only thing that will ever bring this any attention is the fact it is tied to The Lost Boys.
Which brings me to the second half of my review.
Lost Boys: The Tribe and The Lost Boys
Here’s where it gets interesting.
With so many ideas floating around as to how to make a sequel to the 1987 classic, with so many options, the filmmakers decided to make a near-carbon-copy movie. I can hear people arguing with me already but hear me out.
The original’s story: Two brothers and their mom move to a coastal town. The kids have been uprooted and immediately seek out new friends. Older brother falls for a girl. Girl leads him to a pack of vampires who bring him into their gang. Older brother realizes his mistake. Younger brother befriends another pair of brothers who help him and older brother take on the pack of vampires, as well as the head vampire, a climactic fight follows, humans come out champions. Happy ending!
The sequel’s story: Two siblings move to a coastal town. They immediately seek out new friends. Younger female sibling falls for guy who just happens to be the head vampire in a vampire gang. Siblings realize mistake. Brother seeks out help from vampire hunter guy and together all three battle the vampires, with the humans coming out winners. Happy ending!
See? What’s the damn difference?!
I’ll tell you. When Lost Boys: The Tribe tries to link itself to the original film, it becomes a seething mass of confusion. There is no perfect balance of new story with ties to the old. To even fully understand the movie you needed to buy the comic book series Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs to find out what happened in the 20-year gap between The Lost Boys and Lost Boys: The Tribe.
If you didn’t, I’ll fill you in now.
The comics begin roughly two years after The Lost Boys. It is revealed that the Frog Brothers, Edgar and Alan, have gone on to become successful vampire hunters. Or so we are lead to believe, as Edgar is our narrator. Returning from a hunt in the nation’s capital, they are greeted by a familiar, un-dead face. David, lead vampire of the Lost Boys, is in fact NOT dead. He demands to know the whereabouts of Star and Michael. With some help from Sam Emerson, the Frogs defeat David and his fellow vamps, but not before their comic shop burns down. David disappears into the night and the Frogs begin to put pieces of the puzzle together.
It is then revealed that Sam’s Grandpa is in fact a half-vampire. He has sustained himself for years on the blood of the animals he makes into his taxidermy business. He also reveals the name of the head vampire: the Widow Johnson. Or, as all the vampires call her, the Black Widow. The Black Widow, a very successful Dominatrix, has masterminded a huge plot to trap and kill the Frog Brothers and Sam. Grandpa leads them right to her brothel (located somewhere far out of Santa Carla to avoid drawing suspicion) and lets them in. A fight between the Frogs and Sam and the female vampire nest results in Alan being made into a half-vampire.
The comics were scheduled for release to coincide with the film. But in a stunning error of stupidity, the final issue isn’t set to be released until a full month AFTER the film. Issue four holds the keys to everything: what happens to Alan, why Edgar is living in Luna Bay, how Shane (the leader of the Tribe) is created, and the basic set up for how everyone’s come to be in Lost Boys: The Tribe.
WAY TO GO, PEOPLE! HIGH-FIVE!
The only original character kept over into the sequel is Edgar Frog. For those who haven’t read the comics, it is impossible to understand what has changed him. Although, honestly, he hasn’t changed a dime since the original. He’s still a Rambo-wannabe, with the usual assorted weaponry he’s created to fight vampires when he’s not shaping surfboards.
So, let’s explain the new characters:
Chris and Nicole Emerson are never directly revealed to be the children of Star and Michael. In fact, you never hear Star and Michael mentioned by name in the film; all you hear about is how they died several years previous in a car accident. Money has run low for the siblings (explained in a minute) and they are forced to move to Luna Bay to live with their aunt Jillian.
Along the way we learn Chris was a competitive surfer who was kicked off the circuit and dropped by his sponsors after an altercation with another surfer. Chris shattered the other guy’s knee, ruining his career as well. Nicole confides that she believes Chris’ anger over losing their parents has made his temper run hot. He is extremely protective of Nicole through-out the film. We are led to believe that he misses surfing something awful.
Nicole is 17 and supposed to be a head-strong girl who doesn’t always listen to her brother. There’s not really much else to say about her, at least not yet.
After moving to town, Chris bumps into Shane Powers. Shane was also a competitive surfer who seemingly up and disappeared several years ago. Nicole mentions that Chris had a poster of Shane on his bedroom wall during high school. I have no idea what the time line on this is, so that could be anywhere from two to four years ago. Shane invites Chris to come to a party he’s throwing.
The Emerson children go to the party and we are introduced to Jon, who just happens to be the guy whose knee Chris shattered. There are also Erik and Kyle, who are your basic jock-type jackasses who have pretty rudimentary vocabularies laced with f-bombs. Nice.
Chris hooks up with Lisa, who’s character belongs in a cheesy porno then in the film. She’s a throw-away, a lure to distract Chris while Shane takes up with Nicole. A romantic relationship blossoms between the two and Chris tries to put a stop to it.
Post-party, Nicole is already a half-vampire and Edgar Frog shows up just in time to save Chris from his sister. Chris doesn’t believe Edgar when informed of what his sister has become and sends him away. Lisa returns, nearly naked, at the front door, and when she gets too aggressive, ends up impaled on a rack of antlers. Suddenly Chris is a believer and seeks out Edgar.
Do I really have to keep going?
If you were going to do a sequel, nay a continuation of the story from the original, this was not how to go about it. You can’t NOT mention characters, then have one sole survivor of the original reprise his role. The basic links to the original only exist in the last name of the two main characters and Edgar Frog. That’s IT. How the hell can you expect something to make sense on two very tiny ties?!
Adding insult to injury, you over-hype the return of not just Edgar Frog but his brother Alan and Sam Emerson. Everyone gets excited. Then they see the film. Alan is COMPLETELY missing, relegated to “deleted/alternative endings” on the bonus disc. Sam? Well, he fares a little better but not by much. The credits begin to roll then STOP mid-way, to reveal a very disturbing exchange between Sam and Edgar. Why is a Sam a vampire!? What has happened?! Why are they attacking each other?!
It’s like a one-two punch while getting stabbed in the back. Thank you so very much, P.J. Pesce.
There is really not a single character anyone can identify with, let alone feel for in Lost Boys: The Tribe. Part of this is acting but you also need characters with really strong backgrounds, ones the viewers don’t necessarily know. What made The Lost Boys work was the presence of Kiefer Sutherland’s David and the whole mystery surrounding four teenage vampires living in a cave, living the ultimate life of freedom and just happening to be cold-blooded killers. The true Lost Boys, if you will.
The vampires of the Tribe are not like that in the least. They are ham-fisted jocks and sports nuts, with too many toys and too much freedom. We are given Shane, their leader, to be the anchor. He is supposedly in control of the other three with mental telepathy and on a few occasions it is said that they do what Shane wants. That’s all well and good but it doesn’t make the leap from the screen to the viewer.
Where as Paul, Dwayne, and Marko were ultra cool, witty, and shrouded in mystery… the members of the Tribe are explained by Shane. There’s no mystery left about why he picked them. Where as the Lost Boys were very much adolescent in some ways (never-ending party attitude) the Tribe are just a bunch of Jackass wannabes who go round gutting each other for fun before turning on a video camera to record the “hilarity”.
The only vampire with any personality is Jon. And boy, I have a really hard time saying that, mainly because I don’t want to. But I am. Jon is the only vampire we really get a back story on. We know he got into a fight with Chris that resulted in his knee being shattered and his surfing career ended. We are given glimpses of the animosity he feels towards Chris and in the crude remarks he makes to Nicole. In a lot of ways he is the deputy of the Tribe; he carries out Shane’s orders. He whistles Die Fledermaus in several scenes, quotes movie lines, then goes on to mention the Rene Quinton’s experiments involving blood and seawater. He is the strongest vampire in the film, if not one of the strongest characters period. Seriously, Kyle Cassie gets a gold star in my book because really I want to hate Jon so much, and I do, but that’s the mark of great acting.
As for Kyle (Shaun Sipos) and Erik (Merwin Mondesir), their stories are simple and not worth expounding upon. Kyle is meant to be the ultimate prankster while Erik is the cold-blooded murder. They’re cardboard compared to Jon.
This leads me to Shane. Being that no one knows what happens in #4 of Lost Boys: Reign of Frogs, we are left in the dark as to what exactly are his motives for bring Chris and Nicole into the Tribe. Part of it is similar to The Lost Boys: a family one cannot lose because it is immortal. (I’ll expound on this later.) Clearly Shane knows who Chris is, in terms of their surfing careers. But why is Shane doing what he’s doing? Why is he protecting Chris from Jon and seducing Nicole to get Chris to join them? A hint comes at the end during the final battle when Shane says he’s waited for someone like Chris to come along and challenge him. Challenge him over what!?
Because I haven’t any of the answers I need, I have to write this based on what I see. And Shane is one very stupid vampire.
Unfortunately you cannot separate the character from the actor. I don’t care what is said; in some fashion Angus Sutherland got this based on his surname. What a huge boon to the film to sign the half-brother of the actor who is the immortal face of The Lost Boys! Show anyone a picture of Kiefer Sutherland as David and they instantly know what movie you’re talking about.
Sadly, Angus is not Kiefer. He shouldn’t have to be, either. He hasn’t had the same experience Kiefer has; Kiefer had eight films on his resume by the time he made The Lost Boys, let alone other acting experience. To date, Angus has had an extremely bit (less then twenty seconds on screen) part in Harold & Kumar: Escape from Guantanamo Bay and a cameo roll playing a younger version of his father’s character on Commander In Chief clear back in 2005. There is so little information about Angus that I don’t know if he’s done anything else. (He does have another film coming out direct-to-DVD this year called Familiar Strangers.)
The first knock is lack of experience. Undoubtedly he has the Sutherland charm. It’s there and you do see it, but Angus isn’t yet able to wield it like Donald and Kiefer do. With time and more experience, sure. He’s like the ultimate conglomerate of Donald and Kiefer with his own quirks thrown in and I wanted very badly for him to be able to pull this off. In a few places he certainly did but in others… no. I would hate for Lost Boys: The Tribe to be a career killer for him. How unfair to someone with so much potential to be done in so early.
The second knock is the character. Sure, Shane is clearly in charge of the Tribe but why? What does he want? I mean I know he wants Nicole but why? And what’s with the dragon imagery? And the skull ring? Am I supposed to be focusing in on these images or what?
As a lead vampire (I won’t call him a head vampire) Shane lacks the presence and will David has. David just looked at you, with the ice blue eyes, and you fell in his thrall. Shane is teetering on the edge of that power, with his bad boy looks, but it falls flat. Where as at the end of The Lost Boys, David made a huge mistake and reacted in anger at the death of Marko by attempting to put Michael and Star in their place, Shane has a similar moment when Nicole refuses to take the final step to being a vampire. He lashes out at Chris and just when he’s about to succeed, Nicole stakes him. The ONLY moment I feel that even remotely came close to a David moment was when Shane tries to stake Nicole back with the piece protruding from his chest. That was it.
I must say the only other character with an actual background, although not really, is Chris Emerson. I have to say Tad Hilgenbrink was utterly believable as Michael’s son. Someone did his homework! Now I utterly dislike Michael and really wish David had killed him but that’s my problem. Anyway, the back story about Chris being a surfer with a hot temper and a dire need to protect his sister so he doesn’t lose her is actually convincing. Not perfect but quite convincing. A few times I actually saw Jason Patric’s Michael there on screen, or at least a character that was really his son. This is not saying everything worked overall, but still, the only character with any flesh on his bones.
Nicole is made of fail. Sorry. I was lead to believe we’re going to have a strong female protagonist who does what she wants and doesn’t take guff from anyone… no. Didn’t happen. What we really have is a typical 17 year old female who is being raised by her brother. One line that stuck out is when Nicole screams at Chris “you’re not my dad!” If you were going to make her believable, not to mention tie in the original characters, why didn’t she scream “You’re not DAD!” instead? Why does she not have the same depth of background that Chris has? When I’m looking at her overall, she’s much like her mother, Star. We don’t know who Star was before the Lost Boys swept her up yet she somehow uses Michael to regain her freedom. Nicole, unlike her mother and in the only strong moment she’s got, doesn’t rely on the menfolk to save her. We never actually see her tell Shane no; it apparently happens off screen, but the affect is enough to royally piss off Shane to the point he attacks Chris. And just when her brother is about to bite it, Nicole stakes her former lover.
Another thing. I know the whole Lilith myth. But come on. If Nicole writhing unconvincingly on top of Shane is supposed to make her strong, then I’m giving you a big fat F.
Shifting gears, from what I’m gathering from the steaming mess is that there are a few themes that are trying to be explored in the movie. The major one is family. It echos the sentiments of the first, of Sam helping Michael defeat the vampires and win the girl. In Lost Boys: The Tribe we have Chris taking one for the team, joining the bad guys and getting in on their (theoretical) good side then destroying them from within. We have Shane using Chris’ love for Nicole, his baby sister and the only family he’s got, to make him give in. Hell, we have Nicole handing Chris the flask of blood that turns him into a half-vampire.
That scene right there is what brings the Adam and Eve metaphor to light. Nicole is the sinner, bringing her brother into sin. Just like Eve gave Adam the apple and opened his eyes to the nature of sin. At the end of the battle, we see Chris and Nicole standing in a position that mimics the Adam and Eve characters on the pinball machine in the background. Truly, this metaphor is the only one that really worked.
Back to family. This theme is also explored by Edgar Frog. For the casual viewer, you know he has lost a sibling. It is implied to be at the hands of vampires but really never addressed at all. While fighting the vampires, Kyle taunts Edgar by saying “your brother is here!” Somehow that became an utter loose end left un-addressed. Since Alan’s scenes were relegated to the bonus disc, why didn’t the editor remove that line altogether? It just throws a lot of gas on the fire when it comes to the unhappiness felt by fans for being told Alan was going to BE IN THE FILM.
One of the stupidest, but semi-memorable, lines in the film is used first by Chris then Nicole: they’re “family, asshole”. Honestly, that’s the real tag line of Lost Boys: The Tribe. The fact it only half works doesn’t help much.
The string of secondary characters is short, but equally bad.
First up is Aunt Jillian. A familiar sentiment shared so far is the fact that everyone seems to think she’s the answer to Grandpa’s character in The Lost Boys. In fact she’s an anti-Grandpa. You are lead to believe she knows what Chris and Nicole are up against but in the ending (itself a shocking BAD rip off of the end of The Lost Boys!) she says she knows they’re doing drugs and won’t tolerate it. WHAT THE HELL!? In fact, every minute she’s on screen (except when she’s watching out the curtains) is like a thousand nails being driven under my fingernails! She’s horrible in terms of actual character and the actress playing her. The fact she whips out a copy of The Goonies really made it all the worse for me. And yet, we never know exactly how she’s related to Chris and Nicole. We’re told she’s their aunt and a mention of Nicole looking like her mother and that’s it.
So why now is Aunt Jillian taking pity on them? At first I was utterly confused by the location of their house in proximity to hers. It wasn’t until half way through the film I realized she was just across the yard. Way to fail on that! And another nitpick is the stupid Bluetooth headset. Why does Jillian need that?
Lisa, the female vampire that hangs with the Tribe…well… let’s just say she belongs in a bad porno then this movie. There’s absolutely no reason why this character should exist. Poorly acted. Utterly stupid lines. The only redeeming piece of this portion is her death, even if it’s an utter rip off of the original film. Honestly, if you’re looking for links to the original, the antlers are about the biggest piece you’re going to get. Wow, that’s just sad. Someone please tell Moneca Delain to get a new career path.
Evan: Yeah, creepy stalker emo boy indeed. I had hopes for this character. I really did. But it all blew up in my face at the end when he pops over the side of the bed of Edgar’s truck and asks Nicole if he can call her sometime. WHAT THE HELL?! You just spent all that time bound and gagged in a coffin, captured by vampires, nearly killed by the girl you’re pursuing, and all you want is permission to call?! BAH!!?! If this is some kind of “how the male mind works” joke, it sucked. It sucked as much as the “I didn’t know you were born-again Christians!” line.
The bum guy and the little kid in the yard: WHO THE HELL ARE THEY?! WHAT WAS THEIR PURPOSE!?
Overall, even the lines in this movie were unmemorable. Okay, I’m actually recounting them from memory but that’s because they were so unbelievably cheesy and stupid that they got stuck in there only to get made fun of. The Lost Boys was full of memorable and classic one-liners. Lost Boys: The Tribe basically stole those lines, modified them in really unoriginal ways OR stole things and directly pasted them into the script. Edgar’s speech about how vampires die? Lifted nearly word for word from the original. Hell, 3/4ths of what spews from Edgar’s mouth IS from the original.
Now I know why Edgar does that, and I understand the character, but when you look at it from a casual stance, it’s utterly dumb. It worked in the original because he was a 14 year old boy facing un-dead murders who would bite his face off as soon as look at him. It was convincing because Edgar and Alan had moments of sheer terror (the bathroom scene where they cling to one another comes to mind) yet in Lost Boys: The Tribe, we have no moment where Edgar is really made to back down. There’s one that comes close, after Chris kills Jon and Edgar arrives, wanting to know if Chris is “cool”. To which Chris grabs Edgar by the throat and makes it clear he is indeed cool.
As for the little blip that includes Sam Emerson… my god. What a waste of a fantastic scene! Although I am not, by far, a fan of either Corey there was indeed magic on the set that night. For a fifteen second scene there is so much power, so many questions, none of which will ever be answered! What a shame! I even have to say Corey Haim totally pulled that off and I felt like I was really watching Edgar and Sam, all grown up and ready to kill each other over whatever happened between them. WHY?! WHY DID YOU PEOPLE RUIN THAT FOR US!?
After writing all this, the point blank summation of my review is: As a sequel to the classic vampire film The Lost Boys, Lost Boys: The Tribe failed. It completely sucks.