May 5, 2019
by Carla Hay
Directed by Brian C. Miller Richard
World premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 25, 2019.
“Lost Bayou” is a slow-paced supernatural film whose main characters are as mysterious as the powers they seem to have. The story begins with a woman—only identified in the movie as Gal (played by Teri Wyble)—who shows up at the home where her underage son lives with his father. Gal finds out that she’s a day late in going to her son’s birthday party. Her son’s father is understandably furious at Gal for being so irresponsible, and viewers soon see why she lost custody of her son. During the visit, she drops the contents of her purse, which include pills and a bottle of liquor.
Feeling guilty over her shortcomings as a mother, Gal soon finds herself embroiled in some other family problems: Her father (played by Dane Rhodes)—who lives in a houseboat on the New Orleans Bayou—unexpectedly calls and tells her to come to his home because something has happened to Gal’s mother. Gal’s father, who’s identified in the movie only as Pop, tells Gal when she arrives that her mother has died, and he doesn’t quite know what to do with her body, which is lying in a bed on the houseboat.
The problem is, as Gal reminds her father, her mother died peacefully in her sleep three years ago. The body in the bed is a mysterious young brunette (played by Rachel G. Whittle), and Pop can’t explain how she got there. Gal’s real mother, who’s identified in the movie as Maw (played by Carol Anne Gayle), is shown in flashback scenes.
During the course of the movie, Gal and Pop meet a nameless drifter (played by Hunter Burke) who may or may not have a connection to the unidentified dead woman. We also find out that Pop is a Cajun faith healer, and Gal may or may not have inherited his abilities. There’s some supernatural mumbo jumbo in “Lost Bayou,” which implies that Gal and Pop might have the powers of resurrection.
“Lost Bayou” has a lot of long silences, as if the characters are zonked out on some the pills that Gal has. However, the cinematography (from Natalie Kingston) is very impressive in how it conveys the moody beauty of bayou life in New Orleans. “Lost Bayou’s” screenplay, written by Nick Lavin and Hunter Burke, might have gone a little too far in making the characters so mysterious, because all of the characters are under-developed.
The movie is a solid first feature film from director Brian C. Miller Richard, who could have potential if his next projects have better screenplays. It’s been a long time since there’s been an excellent, supernatural-mystery movie that’s set in New Orleans. (Neil Jordan’s 1994 “Interview With the Vampire” is one that comes to mind.) Unfortunately, “Lost Bayou” isn’t going to end up on a list of classic New Orleans movies or even classic supernatural movies.
UPDATE: Gravitas Ventures will release “Lost Bayou” on digital and VOD on August 23, 2020.