True stories are continually churned into cannon fodder for the movie market. Not until very recently, with the rise of streaming services and independent filmmaking, has there been a film for every slight pocket of history. Lost Girls is one such film, an event that is tragic enough to spin a true-crime tale, but not engaging or detailed enough to provide a feature-length’s worth of information. Still, why stop the inevitable? Lost Girls is such an adaptation, one that looks to shed some form of publicity on the Long Island serial killer, an unidentified murderer who preyed on sex workers in the New York area.
As horrible an event that is, Lost Girls does not capture the nuance or fear that these targeted killings had on the women and their families. Director Liz Garbus does little to effectively collaborate with the few hard facts available, instead threading a narrative that fills its various plot holes or lacking storyline with filler conversations and dense, underwhelming personifications of real people. It is not, at least, insulting to those survivors, although I don’t imagine that would be possible considering the relative safety the film finds itself encased in. To incite such horrid memories of modern history is one thing, to not handle those with care is an entirely different issue. Credit where it is due, then, handling this with the utmost respect is, to a degree, attempted. Respect or not, it all falls to the wayside when the content is empty and shallow.
But there is a crucial difference between a careful and considerate approach, and a bleak, boring one. Underwhelming characters come and go, with an obsolete look across their face. It’s hard to connect with any of these performers, especially when they’re so forthright in their mediocrity. Often dependable they may be, the performances of Amy Ryan and Gabriel Byrne offer nothing incredible. No moment that is worth considering in great detail, nor is there even a semblance of anything that could be considered marginally strong. A piece of cannon fodder for their filmography, Lost Girls does them no favours. If anything, it provides only the confirmation that they are competent even in the face of mediocrity, which we knew long before this Netflix original tumbled out.
Lost Girls can’t help but be a predictable affair, it is placid in its narrative and objectively bleak when it comes to the response it has for the few events it wishes to tackle. With that in mind though, we can indeed take respite in what little Netflix can offer with this product. Not a flicker of quality, no semblance or suggestion of the story going anywhere but the inevitably bleak and boring manifestations of unwieldy, grim surroundings. Prying on the emotional scope and range of the characters at hand, Lost Girls hopes to appeal to the sentimental few that modern history affects, but it misses the mark entirely, very nearly slipping into venomous gibberish that makes a mess of its narrative.