Lowlife, the debut feature film from writer/director Ryan Prows, starts out with a bang and immediately takes the viewer hostage for a journey into a grim underworld made up of crooked ICE agents, drug addicts, and stolen human organs. The film is divided into four chapters: Monsters, Fiends, Thugs and Criminals.
El Monstruo (aka The Monster) is a luchador and wannabe superhero passionately played by Ricardo Adam Zarate. Lucha libre (or “free fight”) is a form of professional wrestling in Mexico, characterized by luchadors wearing colorful masks. The Monster works for local drug-dealing, organ-trafficking, and all-around sleaze, Teddy “Bear” Haynes (Mark Burnham). When angered, The Monster blacks out, and in his unconscious mind, he’s a crusader against evil rather than right-hand goon to the guy running an illegal prostitution ring out of a taco shack. As the subject matter would suggest, with the exception of tacos, this film goes heavy on violence and gore (I’ve never known anyone to get violent over tacos). His wife is pregnant with his child and his only wish is that his son will grow up to honor the family legacy and not turn out to be the failure he has become.
Crystal, played by Nicki Micheaux, is a shotgun-toting motel owner who needs a kidney for her sick husband. Throw Randy (Jon Oswald), a white guy with a swastika tattoo proudly emblazoned across his entire face, into the mix and you’ve got the heart of Lowlife; a zany assortment of characters brought to life by knockout performances. The cinematography gives the story a realistically dark atmosphere, but the movie also highlights an incredibly twisted sense of humor. A conversation between Randy and his friend Keith (Shaye Ogbonna), who has just picked him up after being released from prison, is particularly hilarious. Full of colorful personalities, macabre comedy and lots of blood, Lowlife plays out like a live-action comic book.
Lowlife is screening at Toronto After Dark on 7:00pm on Thursday, October 19th.
Rating: 7 out of 10 tacos.