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The Island of Lost Girls (Fantasia 2022 Film Review)

2 min read

Family videos are usually only fun to make and watch for those involved and can be a personal adventure that doesn't quite translate well when shared outside the circle. The Schmidt family have tried to make a combination of a fictional story mixed in with real family members playing a version of themselves. The Schmidt family are no stranger to this way of filmmaking, having debuted another film, The Incredible Adventures of Jojo (and His Annoying Little Sister Avila) at Fantasia back in 2015, but with this follow up, they've taken risks which on the whole do pay off.

When three sisters, hoping to be adopted, decide to take a trip to the beach to cheer themselves up, none of them guessed the day would end with them being swept away to a remote island. They encounter curious and sometimes dangerous sea life, and even more perilous terrain. Sea caves, cliff edges and elephant seal inhabited beaches, the girls try their best to survive it all while wondering where they have landed.

The Island of Lost Girls sets a fun quirky tone from the very beginning and establishes the tight bond the sister share. Their sweet naïve ideas and rather radical actions on their travels makes the film come across as a family adventure film that everyone can enjoy. But there are times where it feels as if we are intruding. Coined as a nature thriller, which is a genre that best describes the action sequences and for the young ages of the children does seem very dangerous, particularly as the sisters performed their own stunts. The sense of threat is always present, whether it's the sea caves, or the girls climbing a rope up a cliff face or when the youngest befriends a sea elephant. The sense of menace is there, as well as the joy.

Though the girls are really sisters, the step into fictional characters is never felt. The children do their best but most lines they say feel rehearsed. Thankfully as the film is like a family video, this non acting technique doesn't remove you from the story. The CGI moments do however disturb as it's all too obvious when the youngest sister is not really riding an elephant seal on the beach. The filmmaking family is daring but not that daring.

The Schmidt family film fits well into the adventurous side of Fantasia but I think it would struggle to find a wider audience than outside a festival to appreciate the risks taken to create a charming, at times, nature thriller.

The Island of Lost Girls screened at Fantasia Film Festival 2022