By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Lowlife made an unheralded debut at SXSW last year, but everyone who saw it then, and practically everyone who’s seen it since, are pretty damn excited about it.
As you should be.
I won’t go too deep into the plot, but, roughly, a Mexican wrestler who is the descendant of a legendary lineage finds himself working for a sleazeball who may be an organ harvester and who is definitely a human trafficker of the worst sort. Meanwhile, a fleabag hotel proprietor will stop at nothing to save her ailing husband, and a man picks up his friend from prison to discover he’s… changed a bit. Their stories are on one hell of a bloody collision course.
Rookie Director Ryan Prows has crafted a film that is stylish as all get-out. Lowlife is not a film that is particularly referential in any way, but he’s clearly a culture omnivore, and his unique characters and plot beats here are all the more exciting for it. The trance state El Monstruo goes into immediately before committing acts of gruesome violence, only to wake up dazed in the gory aftermath, is a really cool idea, for one.
For another, the swastika faced-tattooed Eminem wanna-be is so much better a character than he has any right to be. Prows’s script plays with audience expectations and your emotions towards each character like a maestro. Nothing is as it seems in the first scene you witness it in, and like the T-word that keeps coming up in reviews trying to enumerate the awesomeness of this film, he accomplishes this through a cleverly deployed multi-perspective and time jumping structure and witty, irreverent dialogue. If anybody’s come close to replicating the dizzying genius of the oft-compared to Pulp Fiction it’s Prows here.
I mean, do you need any more of a recommendation?
This movie has a pretty horrific view of the world. Nihilist, even. The married couple, one of which runs a roach motel and the other of which is dying of kidney failure, are engines of pure depression. Admittedly, it does end in an bizarrely hopeful, bizarrely over-explained, but bizarrely perfect way.
Lowlife is one hell of a wild ride, a crime-thriller with style to spare that takes the unsurprising Tarantino comparisons and says “thanks, but I’m going for my own thing”.
Lowlife (2018) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for each change in perspective
Take a Drink: whenever we re-enter a scene we’ve seen previously
Take a Drink: every time El Muerto goes into a violent fugue-state
Take a Drink: every time the Swastika face tattoo comes up in conversation or plot
Take a Drink: for every visual reference to the fish taco joint
Do a Shot: for every ‘sploded head