Blood, Drama, Guts, Action and Comedy are just some of the elements that “Lowlife”, the directorial debut from Ryan Prows, balances for more than an hour and half to bring us a story that pull no punches in order to show us the worst of the people, and that it could be happening everyday in the lower class neighborhoods of Los Angeles without anybody noticing. Told in a way that will remind us of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction”, this film has also interesting characters, a fast steady pace, and several details that will warrant a second viewing.
First me meet “Monstruo”, a disgraced Mexican Luchador that woks as an enforcer for “Teddy Bear”, a dangerous, ruthless criminal, and besides having a problem controlling his murderous rage, he is also obsessed with protecting the family legacy that his wrestler mask represents. We then meet Crystal, an obsessive hoarder and owner of a little rundown hotel, that trying to save his alcoholic husband’s life, accepts an organ from a unexpected donor. Lastly we meet Randy, a convict just released from prison, that besides wearing a problematic tattoo (to say the least) on his face, gets unwillingly pulled into a new crime, risking going back to prison, or something worse.
“Lowlife” is a film that mixes several genres very well, and a lot of its charm is due how well the script develops the characters, both the ones I previously mentioned and the ones that we meet in their story arcs. Even when we can not be a hundred percent on their side after learning their backgrounds, we still can see that they are not irredeemable. I will mention that the film does not follow a linear continuity, instead is divided in several segments where we see the same day through the eyes of Monster, Crystal and Randy, and little by little we see how their roads will cross in order to give us a very interesting conclusion.
In the center of the chaos shown in the screen is Teddy Bear, A ruthless organ trafficker that uses a fish taco business as a front, and that has no trouble to employ a corrupt immigration agent to kidnap illegal aliens in order to get the base product for this obscure business, neither to kidnap and murder the family of the employees he sees as troublesome. Although I think most of the actors did a very good job, Mark Burnham really surprised me in making Teddy both terrifying and charismatic. I am sure we all have met a person like Teddy that could get us in big trouble with smiles and sweet words.
As I said before, the acting overall was very good, although there were some weak spots too. The pacing of the film was fast most of the time, but its slows down where it needs to let the weight of the moment to sink in, although it never feels draggy or boring. The script was very careful to show details on certain characters that at first seemed not important, but at the end have big repercussions. Every time a film tries to make a story with different vantage points is hard to keep the coherence in the flow and attention to the details, but “Lowlife” does a great job in both aspects, which can be better appreciated on a second viewing.
In conclusion: I enjoyed a lot “Lowlife”. The story hooks you from the beginning, loved the characters and how well they get developed thru the story. The dialogues sounded very natural and the pacing was great. I highly recommend this film, and I am eager to see what the next project for Ryan Prows will be .
The film was directed by Ryan Prows, and written by Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, Shaye Ogbonna, Ryan Prows and Maxwell Michael Towson. In the cast we have the talents of Nicki Micheaux, Ricardo Adam Zarate, Jon Oswald, Shaye Ogbonna, Santana Dempsey, Mark Burnham and Jose Rosete.
“Lowlife” will be released on VOD platforms and select U.S. theaters on April 6th, 2018 via IFC Midnight.