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Recommended age 8-12
103 minutes
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ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, THE cover image Click to play video trailer
I love Island of Lost Girls! Its captivating storyline, outstanding performances by young actresses who fearlessly handle their own stunts, and breathtaking cinematography on a remote island make it a must-see family thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat.

The storyline follows three young sisters who accidentally become stranded on a remote island, battling nature's dangers and wildlife as they strive to stay together and survive a thrilling, unplanned adventure.

I like the originality of the storyline, which engaged me throughout. The girls' resilience in the face of challenges adds depth to the narrative. The only drawback is that the film runs a bit long which makes it difficult to maintain its intensity. The cinematography completely immerses the audience in a captivating world with breathtaking shots that showcase the remote island's wild beauty and close-ups that intensify emotional moments, such as the sisters' struggles. The camera effectively captures encounters with wildlife, like sea lions and elephant seals, which adds to the film's tension. Dynamic camera angles within the sea cave enhance the sense of adventure and danger. The costumes suit the storyline perfectly - given the girls being stranded on a remote island, they primarily wear wet bathing suits throughout the film. The remote island off the coast of Baja, California, serves as a breathtaking and immersive setting with its rugged coastline, sea caves and natural wildlife, such as sea lions and elephant seals; it creates a sense of realism that enhances the adventure and peril of the girls' journey. One standout location is the sea cave, which becomes the story's central element of tension and wonder. The dark, labyrinthine passages of the cave, illuminated by natural light, add a sense of mystery and danger. The background music, featured music, and sound effects enhance the film's storytelling. Notably, the music intensifies during critical moments, such as when the girls face danger or navigate treacherous waters, effectively building tension. The natural sounds of the sea, waves and wildlife make the audience feel intimately connected to the characters and their struggle for survival. The central characters are portrayed by real-life sisters Autumn Schmidt, Avila Schmidt and Scarlet Schmidt. The sisters are carefree and adventurous at the start, embarking on a fun day at the beach. However, their characters transform significantly as the story unfolds, and they become stranded on the remote island. They evolve from carefree individuals into determined and resourceful young girls who have to rely on one another to survive. Each sister faces personal challenges and fears, and their growth is evident in their ability to confront and conquer these obstacles. This film benefits significantly from the collaborative efforts of the filmmaker family, with parents Ann-Marie Schmidt and Brian Schmidt directing and co-writing the film alongside their daughter Avila Schmidt. Their combined talents result in a cohesive and emotionally engaging narrative, and excellent performances by their daughters, Autumn, Avila, and Scarlet. My favorite part is when the girls dare to escape from their house to sneak to the beach. This scene captures their adventurous spirit and sets the tone for the entire film. It's a moment filled with excitement and anticipation as the sisters embark on what they believe will be a carefree day of fun. The scene effectively establishes their characters and close bond, making it a memorable and engaging start to their remarkable journey.

The film's message is about the strength of family bonds and the ability to adapt and grow in the face of adversity. It highlights the power of unity and determination and the importance of facing challenges together. It conveys that, even in the most challenging situations, the support and love of family can help individuals overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Note that the film does show kids doing risky things that kids might imitate. The girls perform dangerous stunts and engage in water activities that require caution and expertise.

I give Island of Lost Girls 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 8 to 18, plus adults. It is available on VOD and DVD October 3, 2023. So look for it!

By Hanadie K., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

Island of The Lost Girls is a strange juxtaposition of a childhood "Mission Impossible" combined with "Survivor." As a viewer I felt a bit lost in the purpose of this film.

The storyline follows three orphaned girls who seek adventure together on the beach in California. The story begins with an adoption interview with the oldest daughter Avila (Avila Marie Schmidt) which turns out to be unsuccessful when the couple realize that Avila has two younger sisters and they are not ready for that kind of commitment. The middle sister, Autumn (Autumn Fiore Schmidt), declares it's going to be "a grand adventure, I promise" and her words are truer than anyone could predict. As the girls sneak out together to overcome their disappointment about the failed adoption, they encounter wildlife and dangerous situations after they are caught in a rip current and pulled away from shore. Luckily, they overcome these situations and learn to survive together on a remote island.

The cinematography, under the direction of Heatha McGrath, is outstanding and really highlights the beauty of the island and wildlife. I really love all the interesting camera angles and wildlife footage - the location is incredible. The camera work is outstanding. I like how they included all the childhood flashback scenes. I should mention that the film is truly a labor of love by the entire Schmidt family. The parents, Ann-Marie Schmidt and Brian Schmidt direct and co-write the film and the girls are all played by their three children, Avila, Autumn and Scarlet. The music by Cali Wang drives the emotions in the film and the three girls contribute musically as well. You cannot find three more independent, fearless and adorable girls who I easily fell in love with. Their interaction is genuine and makes you want to be part of their family, especially the youngest, precocious Scarlet. The girls' adventures include unbelievable and dangerous scenes against the ocean waves and currents combined with local wildlife such as sea lions. Scarlet interacts closely with elephant seals who are dangerous and fighting. Avila and Autumn scale cliffs and maneuver through dangerous caves and Autumn falls from dangerous heights in more than one scene which makes their adventure seem more like a dangerous mission. In spite of all that, the girls learn to survive on this island and to scavenge resources and food from wildlife and what is available to them.

The film's message is that love is unconditional and demonstrates how you can be independent and take risks while supporting one another in the spirit of love. Most of the film shows and even glorifies dangerous behavior for young children such as the girls performing dangerous stunts and water activities. There is very little adult supervision shown, which makes it doubly dangerous.

I rate Island of The Lost Girls, 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 to 18. It is available on VOD October 3, 2023.

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST!

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Three young girls try to stick together as they get trapped in a sea cave filled with crashing waves, hundreds of sea lions, and giant elephant seals.
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