Dir/Wri: Michele Jacob | Cast: Iris Mirzabekiantz, Liocha Mirzabekiantz, Lois Litt Magis, Lohen Van Houtte, Belgium, Fantasy Drama 82′
An unexpected disappearance is at the heart of this edgy psychological drama from Belgian director and screenwriter Michele Jacob.
Lost Children sees ten-year-old Audrey (Iris Mirzabekiantz) and her three siblings suddenly abandoned by their father – with no explanation – and forced to fend for themselves in their summer holiday hideaway deep in the woods.
In this first full length feature Jacob delves into the world of fantasy, betrayal and self-doubt as the four kids are initially thrilled at the prospect of exploring this bosky backwater free from parental control, but soon grow anxious as a hierarchy develops along the lines the ‘Animal Farm’, with Audrey naturally taking the lead as she assumes responsibilities far beyond her years.
Lost Children is not just a rites of passage story but a mature and inventive attempt to explore how kids process trauma by escaping into their imagination in order to deal with a crisis – and this can often be the making of them. Left to their own devices the children risk falling prey to their worst fears as a sinister ambiance permeates their surroundings enhanced by Andreas Moulin’s unsettling soundscape.
Here the trauma takes the form of a monster that haunts their subconscious but feels entirely palpable and visible as reality and fantasy merge in Nastasja Saerens’ bold visuals. And when night falls the forest seems to close in on them with a strange monster looming out of the darkness and weird noises echoing through the forest as events turn surreal. Shot on shoestring but none this worse for it, this slim but affective horror film marks Jacob out as an impressive talent in the making. MT
KARLOVY VARY | JUNE 30 – JULY 8 2023 | PROXIMA STRAND