So a Luchador, a drug addict and an organ harvester walk into a bar--haven't hear this one before huh? No worrie, Lowlife is one of the quiet gems rattling around the festival circuit that a whole lot more people should know about. It's hyperbolic to call Ryan Prows the next coming of Quentin Tarantino, but it's also shocking how close his debut feature comes to selling just that.
Multiple stories collide in Lowlife as a Mexican Luchador with rage issues, a pregnant drug addict and an ex-con with a swastika tattooed on his face tackle a black market organ dealer. Hijinx ensue, and the only thing really missing is the rapid fire witty Tarantino dialogue.
Prows script certainly holds its own and is littered with clever situational dark comedy, but the dialogue doesn't quite pop with the same style and cadence as the Pulp Fiction maestro's. Still, the mind ponders if the same material with a much seasoned and recognizable cast could have eeked this one a smidge over the spectacular line over to the sublime.
The character work alone is top notch, with El Monstruo (Ricardo Adam Zarate) coming out the victor as the films most memorable. His arc oozes Mexican subculture, but also a clever quirk where his El Monstruo persona hulks out and the sound completely fades leaving only a ringing in your ear and then the screen goes black. When it comes back El Monstruo awakens from his blackout rage and we see the gruesome aftermath of his shenanigans. Of course, it's also hard to brush off the skinny white ex-con Randy (Jon Oswald), who emerges from lockup with a huge swastika tattooed on his face entering his black best friend's car with no explanation and no awareness of its inappropriateness. Randy comes late into the film, but manages to leave a lasting impression as the timelines interconnect.
Lowlife could very well be either the out-of-nowhere hit literally NOONE saw coming, or find cult status later in life. One thing is certain, it dererves--even needs--to be sought out by Tarantino fans who are willing to concede the cinematic crown to an up-and-comer begging for an audience.
Screened as part of the 2017 Fantasia International Film Festival.