The UHF of the film world.
Latest news

Marina Antunes [Celluloid 10.03.17] action comedy

Director Ryan Prows introduced the screening of his feature film debut Lowlife with an unnecessary apology about how the movie should be buried deep in the midnight program of the festival and though it is, VIFF also screens most of its late night selections with a second screening for those who don't dig the midnight movie scene though in this instance, I'm not sure the daylight crowd really appreciated the madness of Prows' movie.

A ridiculous action comedy, Lowlife tells the interconnected stories of a failed luchador who plays muscle to the leader of an underground organ harvesting ring. The luchador, who goes by El Monstruo, also happens to be having a baby with said leader's adoptive daughter. Also in this mess is Crystal, a motel owner who buys an organ from the shady doctor and to wrap things up, a pair of hired killers who turn into saviours when they realize they've been hired by a crazy man to kill a couple of innocent people.

Lowlife is a total clusterfuck of interconnected stories and honestly, the plot matters a whole lot of zilch here. Prows plays this thing for laughs and violence with an occasional touch of heart thrown in for good measure and though sometimes even the sentimentality comes across as funny, in the end the movie does have a few scenes that ring emotionally true; shocking considering how ridiculous the rest of the movie is.

A low-budget affair, Lowlife embraces the zaniness. Besides the ridiculous set-up and the mostly laughable plot and dialogue, there's a charming wit, over-the-top performances and a cadre of characters that fall somewhere between the lowlife's of the title and comic book characters.

El Monstruo comes from a long line of luchadors but has never managed to live up to the expectations of either the family name or his legacy. As a result, he's a child caught in a man's body, forever struggling with his failures. There's also the flamboyant doctor/organ ring leader played with wonderful glee by Mark Burnham. The women are a little more realistic and Nicki Micheaux is the best actress of the bunch; a recovering drug addict who finds herself in the middle of a shady transaction when she's only trying to save her husband.

Comparisons to early Tarantino are sure to abound but I found Lowlife more in line with Robert Rodriguez's early movies, combination of ridiculousness and charm with a heavy dose of violence for good measure. And I mean violence. Prows and his practical effects team revel in the brutality not to mention, they also have quite a bit of fun with some of the deaths.

It's definitely not for everyone but there's a charm and gleefulness to Lowlife that makes the movie really entertaining if a bit unhinged.

More from VIFF at

Recommended Release: From Dusk Till Dawn

You might also like

Leave a comment