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'Lakay' an odd return to Haiti after devastating 2010 quake

'Lakay' an odd return to Haiti after devastating 2010 quake
Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo in "Lakay." (Four Features Film Co.)

Following the magnitude-7 earthquake in Haiti in 2010, Chicago-based filmmaker Tirf Alexius — along with his siblings Remoh Romeo and Macdanne Edmond — visited the ravaged country to see family for the first time since they'd emigrated 28 years earlier. The trip is captured in the documentary "Lakay."

The mood is somber, as cued by the contemplative voice-over narration. Sights of rubble, tent cities and an orphanage are devastating. But these seem to be mere backdrop for a very different movie.

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A bodyguard shuttles the siblings and their posse between disaster zones, old haunts and tourist traps, while they banter, reminisce about the old days and occasionally go out to dance or play soccer with locals. Even the film's sound guy joins the fun. Their donation of a soccer ball becomes cause for a photo op.

The group seemed to be having a great time chilling, goofing around and drinking beer. It almost feels like the prelude to the something-goes-horribly-wrong turn of events in movies like "Hostel" — except the horrors here are real, like a stray hand discovered at a mass grave.

The siblings eventually reunite with their brother, whose impassioned plea (or maybe guilt trip) finally helps to give some perspective to what's otherwise a vacation movie.

"Lakay."

MPAA rating: PG for thematic material, disturbing images, language.

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8.

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