If you’re looking for the craziest movie of the year, look no further than Lowlife. Director Ryan Prows comes out of the gate swinging extra hard with his feature debut, which is truly one of the most insane movie experiences you’re going to have in 2018, should you decided to give this blood-drenched, ultraviolent but entertaining and impactful movie a go. Love it or hate it, and I’m suspecting there will be a lot more love than hate with this one, Lowlife is a movie that is going to stick with you.
Lowlife asks the question, what happens when you throw together a fallen Mexican wrestler with serious rage issues, a just-out-of-prison ex-con with a regrettable face tattoo, and a recovering junkie motel owner in search of a kidney? Set amidst the seedy underbelly of Los Angeles, Lowlife zigzags back and forth in time as it charts how fate, and a ruthless crime boss, connects three down-and-out reprobates mixed up in an organ harvesting scheme that goes from bad to worse to off-the-rails insane.
It’s impossible to talk about Lowlife without noting that this is very closely related to the early works of Quentin Tarantino. Most specifically, Pulp Fiction. That’s not to say that Ryan Prows is just trying to do his best Tarantino impersonation, as he brings his own voice and sensibilities to the movie which, again, I can’t emphasize enough is just so bananas. Every element of this thing is cranked to eleven. The lines are very blurry, as we’re following a bunch of reasonably seedy characters at best and downright deplorable humans at worst. But the arguable “hero” of this movie is a grown, delusional man known as El Monstruo who wears a Lucha Libre mask literally all of the time and brutally, and I do mean brutally, kills lots of people. Just to give a sense of how nuts this thing is.
This movie really blurs a lot of lines, but in a way that is narratively fascinating. It blends hardcore violence with truly cutting comedy, but a lot of that comedy is born from some of the most unimaginably horrible situations one can picture. It’s a fine line to walk, and it may be a line that is toed just a little too closely for some, but there are some very brave and interesting choices made here. It’s commendable in that respect. Should you laugh uncomfortably at the Swastika tattoo on that guy’s face? Is it totally inappropriate to chuckle even though that dude was just brutally murdered? These are questions you may ask yourself while watching Lowlife.
Another thing well-worth mentioning is that Lowlife is so very R-rated. Not like, a few F-bombs and a bodycount. We’re talking hard R. Much of that has to do with the truly graphic nature of the violence. This is a movie that isn’t shy about showing awful things in an up close and unsettling way. There are detestable people doing detestable things. If you’ve got a weak stomach, you may need to cover your eyes at some parts, because it’s pretty ugly. However, that ugliness does serve the tone of what’s going on here, even if it is potentially upsetting for some viewers to see stuff like that.
Ryan Prows has crafted one heck of a debut feature. Lowlife gets going right away. It’s instantly tense and presents some challenging questions, social commentary and shocking visuals. And that’s just in the first ten minutes. If you’re not afraid of graphic violence and some potentially touchy subject matter, this movie is absolutely worth your time, even if just to observe its wackiness. I dare you to find me a more insane movie in 2018 that actually manages to stay on the rails. Miraculously, Lowflife does. The car may tip a bit, but it does manage to keep itself on the tracks. IFC Midnight has delivered something pretty memorable with this one.