★★☆☆☆ Dutch theatre and television producer Robin de Levita turns his hand to feature filmmaking with Lost Cos. Sadly, despite some cultish potential this aptly-titled debut feature is indeed a lost cause: an incoherent, undisciplined and tedious mess with little about it to truly recommend.

★★☆☆☆

Dutch theatre and television producer Robin de Levita turns his hand to feature filmmaking with Lost Cos. Sadly, despite some cultish potential this aptly-titled debut feature is indeed a lost cause: an incoherent, undisciplined and tedious mess with little about it to truly recommend.

Evi (Evgeniya Radilova) is a dental assistant living in New Jersey, working for her skeezy boss who is up to his eyeballs with loan sharks. By night, however, Evi adopts the comic-book persona of Vampireniya, a leather-clad vampire, as she frequents a cosplay / burlesque club, seeking vengeance for the death of her girlfriend, Lia (Zoë Vnak). Meanwhile, the New Jersey police are investigated the appearance of a body, dressed as comic character Merman and apparently a regular at Evi’s club.

So far, so pound-shop CSI: Miami. The film’s early sequences undoubtedly have an appeal with their exploitative violence, kitsch direction, and gratuitous sexuality. What plot there is frequently grinds to a halt for lengthy fetishistic dance sequences of Evi dancing on her apartment roof or writhing around surrounded by pyrotechnics, while the cops are surprisingly, if not believably, au fait with cosplaying subcultures. Sadly, Lost Cos’ cultish appeal wears thin quickly as the film’s 90 minutes drag out a gossamer-thin premise with nowhere near enough punch to justify its longueurs.

Animated comic-inspired sequences pepper the film, and while they’re certainly striking their derivative style serves as a reminder of the overall lack of originality, and come off more as a cheap way to get around expensive action sequences rather than enjoyable stylish flourishes. The metal soundtrack is certainly lively and fits the visual and tonal themes of the film, but those themes are so thinly drawn that its style is all the film has to fall back on. The film’s humorous moments land better, such as when the two detectives attempt to infiltrate the club wearing animal onesies.

Ultimately, Lost Cos is a morass of half finished ideas and narrative threads. The script more or less gives up on the dead Merman plot at the end of the second act – supposedly the inciting incident of the film – while a prologue hints at Evi’s abusive mother that never again surfaces. Elsewhere, the script’s handling of sexual violence is predictably blunt. The film’s depiction of genderqueer people and subcultures is more positive, while its unsympathetic depiction of incels provokes a few laughs, but in the end it lacks a sufficiently acerbic bite to really go to town on its targets.

One wishes to give tiny films like this the benefit of the doubt and there are areas where its heart is in the right place, particularly around the depiction of related subcultures and the ways that their vulnerable, supportive and toxic communities intersect. But as a feature, Lost Cos is simply too undisciplined to warrant recommendation.

Christopher Machell