When Lost Child first opens, our main character Fern (Leven Rambin of The Hunger Games fame) is sitting on a bus heading home after fighting in the Army. When we hear the sound of gunshots while she’s resting, it seems to set the tone for the movie. Right off the bat, it looks like we’re in for a PTSD character study. In a way, the film is that but it also turns out to be an interesting genre bender as a way to avoid being a typical story about an Army soldier readjusting to home life.
As Fern returns home, she tries finding her long lost brother Bill (Taylor John Smith) in order to rebuild their relationship while attempting to get her life back together. But her life begins to rattle once she meets Cecil (Landon Edwards), a boy living in the woods who seems to have no family and no background. As Cecil stays at Fern’s house, she begins to get sicker, leading her to believe that Cecil may in fact be cursed.
What director/co-writer Ramaa Mosley does is attempt to take the story’s supernatural elements and ground them in reality so that the mystery surrounding Cecil can be maintained. Even though strange occurrences take place in Fern’s household when Cecil arrives, there are hints that the belief that he’s cursed might just be a case of mythical folklore.
As a result of the great focus on the allegedly supernatural storyline, the PTSD plot point established early on becomes slightly ignored. Also, the dynamic between Fern and her brother ends up being rather rushed. That being said, the highest point of the story still ends up being the bond between Fern and Cecil. Even though Cecil poses a potential threat, Fern still takes him under his wing just so she can live with someone to have a connection with. She lives all by herself and her brother, the only family she has left, tries disowning her. So, she attempts to take care of a child who is as lost and alone as she is.
Fern is quite a lost soul and Leven Rambin does an admirable job at conveying her isolation and emotional longing. However, some of her best moments are the ones where she’s quietly processing her past trauma. As Fern hears sounds from when she was fighting in the army, her sudden paralysis is perfectly conveyed on Rambin’s expressive face.
While I do wish that the film had explored Fern’s trauma a bit more, Lost Child still makes an admirable attempt to stand out from other PTSD storylines even if it ends up juggling too many plot points. But at the end of the day, Leven Rambin still manages to hold the film together and as previously mentioned, its supernatural elements prove to be intriguing.