Lowlife is a home-spun tale of honor, legacy, and black market organ transplants. An intricate juggling act of intersecting stories, Ryan Prows feature film debut signals a new, bold voice in genre film making. Practically a love letter to magical realism, Lowlife is the story of an addict, an ex-con, and a luchador whose lives collide at the center of an organ harvesting operation. Playing ahead of Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead’s The Endless at this year’s Toronto After Dark film festival, audiences are in for a startling (and touching) flick fueled by violence and tragedy.
Once Upon A Time in downtown Los Angeles, a young Mexican man follows in his father’s footsteps to become: El Monstruo (Ricardo Adam Zarate). Regarded as a hero and a protector of the people, El Monstruo is the moniker of his family’s patriarchs. Unwilling to let his father’s legacy die, El Monstruo dons the mask and sets out to earn his birthright. But El Monstruo too is a victim of the world he rages against. Living in disgrace, employed by a brutal cartel organ smuggler, El Munstro must perform terrible acts of violence to provide for his family. But after blacking out in a fit of rage, El Monstruo must find his missing wife, to return her and their unborn son to safety.
Meanwhile, across town, Crystal (Nicki Micheaux) is busy managing a small motel that she has sunk her entire life into. Recovering addicts themselves, Crystal’s husband is in desperate need of a kidney. A Kidney they cannot afford. That is until Teddy ‘Bear’ Haynes (Mark Burnham) offers to help Crystal and her husband, without going through all the expensive red-tape of today’s heath care system. Teddy’s plan is far from perfect, but it means keeping Dan alive. At the same time, unbeknownst to anyone, ex-cons Keith (Shayne Ogbonna) and Randy (Jon Oswald) are meeting again for the first time in years. Randy’s fresh off a long prison sentence, but Keith’s about to get him into a whole mess of trouble that will risk the lives of everyone.
Our protagonists intersect in such dramatic and heartbreaking ways, like sideshow of sorrow. A strong example of character-driven storytelling, Lowlife holds no punches, allowing every awful moment, as determined by our character’s actions, to play out in wondrous despair. Awarded the Special Jury Prize for “Audaciousness, Energy, and Anarchic Spirit” after it’s world premiere at the Fantasia Film Festival, the scrappy indie film is leaving a lasting impression on festival goers worldwide.
Die-hard Tarantino fans will no doubt see Lowlife as an homage to Pulp Fiction. Although the films does have a distinctively 90’s feel, it’s “22 Short Films About Springfield” approach is earned as each individual story adds to a much larger epic of crime and brutality. A tall-tale for the present day, Lowlife is a dark, absurd comedy for genre fans that enjoy happy endings with a whole lot of blood. I Lucha-adore this movie!