Lost Creek Written by Colin Adams-Toomey & Dan John Witherall
Directed by Colin Adams-Toomey
Starring Oliver Stockman, Henry Stockman, Brynna Bartoo, Lisa Caruzzi, Matthew Lovlie
New York City Premiere (FEARnyc): October 23, 2016
Spending my weekend at FEARnyc film festival at the Cinema Village in New York City has given me the chance to fill up on horror this Halloween season. The festival, directed by John Capo, is featuring 65 horror movies ranging from the all time classics to NYC and world premieres. In the three days so far that I spent at FEARnyc, I took in 10 films, and the one that felt the most genuine and authentic was a low-budget, small-town ghost story, that’s labeled on IMDb as a “drama, fantasy, horror.” The film is Lost Creek directed by Colin Adams-Toomey, and co-written by him and Dan John Witherall.
Lost Creek is a horror movie because it features ghosts and monsters, but in reality it’s a story about childhood, friendship, and imagination. Peter (Oliver Stockman) just moved to his mom’s old hometown after her messy divorce, the particulars of which keep his mother busy and distracted. He walks around town alone, through the woods where he finds the old “lost creek.” There he meets and befriends a young girl, Maggie (Brynna Bartoo). Their instant connection reminded me of my own daughter, who at almost 6 years old will walk up to random kids in the playground and call them “best friend” within seconds.
Peter and Maggie hang out at the creek whenever he isn’t in school, having fun the way we all used to before we fell deeply in love with our technological devices. In school, Peter and best friend Bill (Henry Stockman, his real-life brother), prep for Halloween while discussing the urban legends of their town: the creek is supposedly haunted and there may or may not be monsters. Peter certainly feels something is wrong. He hears mysterious voices emanating from his basement and sleepwalks into the woods and into the lair of some type of nightmarish monster. Bill meanwhile is scared of his toys coming to life, and sure enough, Halloween dolls begin stalking him while he’s in bed.
Soon townsfolk are missing and it’s up to Peter, Maggie, and Bill to figure out what the monster is and how to stop it. If you’re thinking wait, group of kids trying to stop a monster sounds a lot like Netflix’s Stranger Things, well you’re not wrong. Lost Creek does pay homage to that as well as The Goonies and Stand By Me, which all feature tremendous young casts. The three leads in this film are fantastic.
There is a raw quality to Lost Creek that absolutely connected to me. After speaking to the filmmakers after the premiere, I found out this film was made in Delaware, in and around the homes of the actors and their families on a miniscule budget of only $30,000. The child leads were recommended from the director’s drama teacher mother. Because of the low-budget somewhat messy feel to it, everything happening to these kids felt authentic. You feel so much for these kids, you want to hang out with them, and be their friends. Watching this made me yearn for the days where I’d go out with my friends for hours to the park and all around the neighborhood long before the days of cellphones and the Internet.
Lost Creek is not a perfect movie, though. In the Q&A after the screening, the kids themselves were hilariously pointing out some continuity errors. A film like this doesn’t have to be and should not be perfect. It evokes raw and natural emotion. Sure I guessed the “reveal” about one of the characters almost immediately, but it doesn’t ruin anything. I felt genuine nostalgia while watching this, and I can’t wait to follow the cast on their journeys into the film industry, and I’m excited to see what Colin Adams-Toomey can do given a decent budget. Thumbs way up for Lost Creek.
The filmmakers are trying to secure a November release for Lost Creek on Vimeo. The film is making the rounds at film festivals. Oliver Stockman just won Best Actor at the Freakshow Horror Film Festival in Orlando, Florida.
FEARnyc continues through the week with more premieres as well as classics, including John Carpenter’s Halloween on Thursday evening, the final day of the fest. The screenings take place at Cinema Village at 22 East 12th Street in Manhattan, NY. Check FEARnyc.com for more details and full schedule.