Quentin Tarantino is a modern filmmaking auteur, and his work has absolutely inspired a new generation of filmmakers. Unfortunately, this has led to a wave of filmmakers insisting on aping his style of storytelling and ultra-violence without bringing anything new or interesting to the table.
Lowlife is a perfect example of this practice put to screen, and it somehow delivers a highly entertaining final product. The movie screens at midnight on Saturday at the Capitol Theatre.
First things first, Lowlife isn't a bad movie. Feelings about the trend of people trying to recreate Tarantino films aside, this melodramatic and darkly comedic crime film is actually a lot of fun to watch.
Following the lives of a surprisingly endearing fresh-out-of-prison ex-convict with a giant swastika tattooed across his face, a recovering junkie motel owner in search of a kidney, a luchador failing to live up to his father's legacy and the taco-shop-owning crime boss who brings them together, Lowlife is a barbaric and absolutely bananas look at the state of contemporary America.
The violent underbelly of Los Angeles plays home to this eclectic cast of characters, offering stunning backdrops to their bloody and bizarre misadventures.
As the debut feature from Ryan Prows, Lowlife was written by a Los Angeles comedy collective composed of Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, Shaye Ogbonna, Maxwell Towson and Prows. Writing by committee can be pretty disastrous; and there are moments of Lowlife that feel incredibly disjointed and could have benefitted from a few less cooks in the kitchen. Luckily, Lowlife is a fun enough adventure to look past some of its flaws.
Every moment of the film is an adrenaline rush, but one that also offers an unflinching look at sociopolitical issues like poverty, immigration, drug addiction and the abhorrent American healthcare system at the same time.
The nonlinear narrative can be a bit difficult to follow at times as the film is sectioned into sequences that allow for varying perspectives of the same situation from each character. As such, there are wild tonal shifts that can feel a bit exhausting, but the underlying excitement nicely holds it all together.
These down-and-out characters have no reason for their lives to everintersect, but the insanity presented once they all align is something to be grateful for. As the stories converge toward the end of the film, however, the chaos becomes controlled and allows for a totally satisfying conclusion.
With its bloody moments of brutality, sharp humor and gorgeous cinematography, Lowlife is a sure-to-be favorite for fans of midnight movies and cult cinema.