Panic Fest 2018: ‘Lowlife’ is Tarantino on Speed

by Christian Ramos on January 25, 2018

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Solid Rock Fist Up] 

Lowlife screens this weekend at Panic Fest at Screenland Armour: Friday January 27 @ 10pm and Saturday January 28 @ 7:15pm, with director Ryan Prows and cast members in attendance. For ticket information on this film and more at Panic Fest CLICK HERE.

I really hope Quentin Tarantino has seen this movie and had just as great of a time as I did.

Told in small vignettes that in the end come together to make one whole story with all the characters interacting, Lowlife, directed by Ryan Prows, is a high-power assault to the adrenaline system in the best way possible. Who doesn’t love a good chase and subsequent shootout in their movie?

Right off the bat, the film shows an ICE agent taking illegal immigrants from a hotel, much to the dismay of the manager Crystal (Nicki Micheaux). The immigrants are taken into a sketchy subterranean basement where from there, the bodies are literally taken apart and the organs harvested.

The story moves along to the three secondary stories. Monsters introduces El Monstruo (Ricardo Adam Zarate) a luchador who wants to live up to his name and pride. El Monstruo works for Teddy Haynes (Mark Burnham) in pimping off abducted young girls, and whose wife Kaylee (Santana Dempsey) is pregnant with “El Monstruo Niño.” Although the most annoying story in the movie because of how much El Monstruo looks at himself as a big savior, his redemption arc is pretty solid as soon he’s faced with having to save Kaylee from thugs and her own stepfather, Teddy, through the movie.

Second in Fiend, is hotel manager Crystal and her story of trying to save both her husband with a new kidney and also his daughter Kaylee whom she has seen being kidnapped by Keith (Shaye Ogbonna) and Randy (Jon Oswald). In Thugs, Keith and Randy are hired by Teddy to kidnap Kaylee and take her unborn baby from her until she gets the better of them.

Okay, so that’s pretty much the basics of the movie without anything being spoiled because there is a lot more going on than even the poster to this can explain. At times, I wondered if the Pulp Fiction-like structure would work — and it did. It was creative to give an opening that related to and brought together the three stories instead of having it work like an anthology main narrative that would have made this movie more convoluted and another lazy effort in telling separate stories.

Prows also took the time to make each character have a redeeming story arc for themselves. They are all thrust into a crazy world because of Teddy and his shady underground business and all have to fight to survive blood and guts flying everywhere at them.

Lowlife pretty much surprised me all around. The violence and gore went hand and hand with stories in a natural way. I’m a fan of disparate stories coming together, especially when they are this satisfying and well-executed. Lowlife definitely falls into that category.

Christian Ramos is a recent graduate of KU with a B.A. in Film & Media Studies. When he’s not watching movies, he likes to brag about the pointless Oscar trivia he knows, remembers that time he dressed as Steven Spielberg for Halloween and shows off his tweet that Julianne Moore liked.

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