Eni's Cosplay Journey

Bruce Von Stiers

Over the last several years, cosplay has become a very popular thing. There are complete shows about cosplay and competitions as well. At any Comicon, you will find a whole bunch of cosplayers. From silly furry characters to badass villains to smoking hot female action heroes, there is not shortage of people acting out fantasies in cosplay.

So what would happen if the cosplay world intermeshed with the real world? And what might happen if you throw in a possible murder?

That is somewhat the starting premise for a cool, but slightly strange new film. The title of the film is Lost Cos. It is the film directorial debut of Robin De Levita. His previous work was primarily stage productions. He has produced over seventy stage productions and is a three-time Tony Award winner.

When the film begins there is a quote from the noted scientist, Douglas H. Everett. It states that some people change a dream world into a real one. For me, that kind of set to tone for the film.

The film opens as young Eni opens the door for trick or treaters. But mom shuts the door on the treaters and the girl is in trouble. Later Eni makes up a costume and sneaks out.

Then we meet Eni as an adult. She is a dental assistant. Her boss, the dentist, seems to have a gambling problem. That plot element is explored and exploited later in the film.

But before all of that, there is a dead guy on the beach. A couple of detectives are there trying to figure out who and what the dead guy was. Their boss comes up and it is discovered that the dead guy was a cosplayer whose character was Merman. How does the boss know about cosplay? They find out the dead guy had been at a club called Lost Cos.

Then at the dentist's office, there was a news bulletin about Merman. Eni flashes back to an encounter with the Merman cosplayer. Does she know something about his death?

Right away I started thinking this was going to be a murder mystery, albeit a kind of different type. There's a guy who died in costume. And there is a beautiful woman who has that look like she has something to hide. I thought this might be a bit of a noir tale, with the world of cosplay as an added attraction. But this isn't really that type of story. It is more of a vengeance and retribution film with a vigilante influence.

Eni is suffering psychologically from a trauma in her life. Her psychologist is trying to get her to open up and face her past. That way she can move forward. But Eni isn't quite ready for that yet.

This and other plot elements seem to be somewhat removed from each other. But later, the bits and pieces of those elements either blend together or make sense on their own.

Some of the focus of the film takes place in the club, Lost Cos. This is a place where cosplay and burlesque are intertwined. Eni has her own cosplay character, Vampirenya, based on a comic book action heroine. As Vampirenya, Eni performs a show at the club, that is as erotic as it is disturbing.

Eni is played by Evgeniya Radilova. Besides appearing in episodes of Blue Bloods and FBI: Most Wanted, she has appeared in films such as Night Rapper and Carmen.

As I mentioned earlier there are several different plot elements going on. The dentist has a bookie who wants his money. And will take extreme measures to get it. There is a guy at the club, dressed in spiderman type of costume, who gets aggressive with a woman who is one of Eni's friends. And there are two gamer guys who are infatuated with the Vamirenya character. One guy, Ben, knows who Eni is and kind of threatens her. He and the other gamer guy are trying to figure out how to get into Lost Cos. And as anyone who's tried to get into a hot club knows, it's almost impossible unless you're cool or have an in with the door people.

The scenes in the club are interesting to say the least. There are crazy costumes and the people wearing them are not your average Joe or Jill next door neighbor. Some are looking for attention, some looking just to have some fun and others are using the club to hook up with other cosplayers. There are scenes back and forth that show some of this going on.

Murray Hill plays himself and acts as the Emcee for the club's show. I had seen him playing as the host of a teen dance show for the music video of The Regrettes song Hey Now. There was also Dena Tyler, who plays the doctor. She had a recurring role on the show Bull as well as guest starring on episodes of NCIS: New Orlean and Chicago Med and appearing in numerous short and feature films.

Intermixed with the live filming, there are several segments of graphic novel or comic book type of animation. These segments mostly depict acts of violence. These are acts of vengeance or retribution.

We learn through the course of the film that the trauma Eni experienced was the loss of the love of her life. How they came to be together is played out in a few scenes. And what happened to the girlfriend, Lia.

Throughout the film, I got the sense that Eni was more than just a cosplayer. Was she a vigilante as well? Her cosplay character Vampireyna certainly was. Was Eni, as her character, going right the wrongs that had been done to her friends? How about her girlfriend. Would she avenge her?

Zoe Vnak played Eni's girlfriend Lia. Samantha Rubin played Zoey, the friend of Eni's who was accosted in the club. Rocco Nevers was Ben and Rob Franzes as Aron. Jared Rinaldi played the spidy character who accosted Zoey. Mark McCullough Thomas and Ross Degraw played the police detectives and Jason Furlani played their boss. Christopher Whalen played the dentist and Tony Naumovki, the bookie he owed money to.

Other people in the cast included Mo Stark, Bill Johnson, Francesca Van Horn, Brian Hamilton, Manny Aguilar and Laurie Guzda. Garen McRoberts played the Merman. Anya Winchester, Sha Gupta, Alia Munsch, Anthony Farro, Siraj Huda, Ali Arkane, Darrell Thorne, Pixel, Perle Noire, Ashyer Gibbins and Rebecca Antis were also members of the cast.

The film had a ton of actual cosplayers who basically portrayed themselves in crowd scenes at the club.

Some of the music in film included the songs Boom Boom by DK Zero and Sand Circus with a beat by Phillip Menzie Siggapon and Vocal Archers.

The director of photography was Michael Tosner. His previous work includes a few music videos and several short and feature films. The film was edited by Tayler Braasch. Some of the films she has worked on include Los Angeles and IRL.

The original graphic novel and comic book animation was done by Andriano Moraes.

The film was produced by Evgeniya Radilova and Catriona Rubenis-Stevens Michael Tosner Jeffery Smith Georges and Steven Keane. The screenplay was from Robin De Levita and Michael Tosner.

Lost Cos is more than just a cosplay film with some action and adventure thrown in. Eni is definitely not coping with losing the love of her life. How she deals with the pain and aloneness is what drives the film. By the end, she gains insight and begins a new focus in life. But that seems to be just the beginning of a new chapter for her.

The film does have nudity and a bit of graphic violence. But there really isn't too much gratuitous sex, although there are a couple of raucous scenes with a cosplay cowgirl and a cosplay bull. The action fighting sequences seemed to be well choreographed as were the burlesque bits mixed into the film.

Lost Cos is a strange, but very entertaining film. It has psychological drama, vigilantism, action and adventure and a smidgen of sci-fi all swirled around a story with its roots in the cosplay world.

The film has garnered over fifty awards at film festivals, including the 2023 Burbank International Film Festival and the 2023 Golden State Film Festival.

Lost Cos is opening in select cities beginning December 8th , 2023.

If you'd like to see a trailer for Lost Cos or just learn a bit more about it, visit the film's website at https://www.lostcos.com


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© 2023 Bruce E Von Stiers