Sunday, December 28, 2014

Lost Days

Six college friends go on a winter holiday trip to relish what they deem to be their last carefree days of youth, only to find their so-called friendship tested and fractured by malice and jealousy. Conceptually, Lost Days explores the seemingly delicate nature of relationships; bringing to the forefront suppressed feelings of anger and uncertainty that each person feels when they're seeking acceptance within a group. The series takes place in a mountain cottage and covers a 10-day period within which these individuals sort out their issues with dire consequences.

It begins with a road trip organized by tennis club president, Shino Yuta (Seto Koji) and his best friend Takano Natsu (Yoshizawa Ryo). With them are model student, Rinka (Treindl Reina), level-headed Mana (Kojima Fujiko), sassy junior student, Satsuki (Miyoshi Ayaka), and resident good girl, Miki (Ishibashi Anna). They spend a fun-filled afternoon at a ski resort, laughing, joking and snowboarding before deciding to retire to a mountain cottage owned by Miki's parents. Upon arriving there, they are surprised to find Miki's older brother (Kiriyama Ken) already taking up residence. And though Miki appears visibly troubled by her brother's presence, the rest of the gang, at first, does not find anything particularly unusual about having an  unexpected companion.

They all try to make nice with each other as night falls but things soon take an unexpected turn when the power goes out, the keys to the car go missing, and personal affairs get exposed. Cabin fever kicks in and tensions rise as the characters find themselves forced to confront each other with malign intentions at play. Busy fighting and accusing each other of suspicious and repulsive behavior, these six individuals remain unaware of a murder that took place in the mountains and an ongoing manhunt for a killer on the loose.

When one of them almost freezes to death after being locked up in a tool shed, Yuta takes it upon himself to investigate who's orchestrating the group conflict and why this person appears to be hell bent on driving a wedge between his friends. He finds disturbing evidence that point to the involvement of Miki's brother but is unsure of how to proceed with the safety of his friends being a major consideration.

Lost days basically finds a group of friends engaged in a leisure activity and brandishes them into a scenario that would allegedly turn deep-seethed  insecurities into an act of violence that would result in the untimely death of one of these bright-eyed youngsters. However, despite its promise of suspense and peril, what it is really---is an excruciatingly slow-paced drama that insinuates a far ominous series of events than what actually unfolds on screen. Each episode drags on as if it's longer than it's actual runtime, making its viewers feel like they lost an indeterminate number of hours.

The series tries to build up suspense by playing up the paranoia of its six characters, invariably spending time to showcase their agitated dispositions. With the exception of the two boys in the club, a lot of what's said and done by their female counterparts is misunderstood, further emphasizing the superficial and feeble nature of their proclaimed bond. There's an apparent lack of empathy and an unwillingness to listen, even if the the conflict presented could have been easily resolved by placing insecurities and doubts out in the open. More than one person is guilty of sowing discord in the group and though it's easy to speculate the motive behind fomenting distrust, the explanation provided at the end of it all is petty and, in the alternative, underwhelming.

Lastly, given the offhand introduction of an unknown variable (i.e. a serial killer evading capture), it's easy to assume that a much sinister cause for concern is afoot but this promising storyline is squandered and inexplicably left to the last few minutes, untouched. Lost Days takes too much time tracking the movement of frenemies engaged in childish spats, with whole episodes allotted to thresh out matters of no real consequence. And even though there are allusions to creepier and more disturbing elements such as voyeurism and an unhealthy form of sibling attachment, all of this is overtaken by flimsy romantic entanglements that do not pay off in the end. Seto Koji and Treindl Reina are the best of the lot but their efforts to lend a sense of realism or urgency to the supposed tragedy that would later befall the group is lost in an uneventful string of sluggish storytelling.


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