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There is undeniable charm at work throughout "Lo," which rushes right into a story with minimal fuss and is able to answer all its questions and establish solid enough groundwork for a plausible conclusion in just 80 minutes.
A gothic and artistic genre film that tells a unique story...
"Lo" might just be one of the best horror-comedies you've never heard of. It's an indie effort from writer-and-director Travis Betz, who might just have a successful future ahead of him if what he demonstrated in "Lo" is equal to his overall talent and ambition. It amounts to plenty of fun, and plenty to admire. You can't exactly watch "Lo" expecting the best film ever, but then again, when do you ever do that with a movie?
Say you do this from time-to-time. Please, for the love of god, don't do it with "Lo". Don't expect anything amazing. You know what: don't even expect a whole lot. Indie filmmakers can only do so much, and compared to most horror filmmakers, Travis Betz has contributed very little to this genre. So why, oh why, is "Lo" better than the average film for its genre? Perhaps it's because while flawed, the film has wit, ambition, and good intentions galore. Perhaps more attention would garner the cult audience that the film rightfully deserves.
Well-made is a term that can't truly apply to this film. The script kind of wings it half of the time. I don't mind it, but sometimes it feels a bit pretentious. But at least the film is aware of it.
The story involves a young man as he searches for his lost love in the depths of hell; at the hands of a demon named "Lo" as well as several other entities of the like. His girl was taken from him by a demon, so the man can recall, and he consults the book that she gave to him (for Christmas, I presume). The film isn't so much abundant with story-telling; but more-so story-telling, humor, and creativity.
So yes, the pacing is genuinely slow, even for the genre. However, if you can get past this, "Lo" is actually pretty worth-while. I'm not one of them "hipsters" that likes a film just for being indie. I like a film because it's good; and that is why I like "Lo". Some may argue that it is "bland" and "unfunny", but that is strictly seeing it out of one eye. Seeing it from many different angles, I analyzed what Betz did on his low budget, what he accomplished, and how this successful film may influence his body of work to come.
The good aspects out-weight the bad. The costume design and make-up isn't the best out there, but it's much, much better than it needed to be. That I'll grant a film such as "Lo". Also, the direction is pretty solid, if you can acknowledge the sheer craftsmanship that went into the production. Dedication and love were both involved too; it's just that some won't care. There are some pretty funny jokes within the film, and then there are some. The jokes can be funny, somewhat funny, or not funny at all; they often range from either of the three.
The bad aspects of this film are few, but they should still be mentioned. The film is sometimes inconsistent, and the payoff is just plain disappointing, when you think about it. The film ends on a note that leaves us thinking, "That was it?" Yes, indeed, that was it. That's the end of the road; the last dance. But with that being said, I thought the overall ride was satisfying, and as it turns out, I quite liked "Lo". It's not the best movie out there, it has its flaws, but there's a whole lot of heart, humor, and random musical acts to be found here. I mean, who doesn't want to see someone intent on beating up their verbally abusive hand-cut? No hands shall be raised, because somewhere deep down, we all admittedly want to see that. It's kind of useless to deny it.
This is kind of along the lines of the TV show Buffy and Army Of Darkness. Sadly the plot is very predictable at times the dialogue feels tedious. On a good note the make up on Lo is fantastic, it was unnerving. I wish it could have been more, but I couldn't connect with it. I don't feel like I am the target audience for this film, I am sure there are plenty of Flixster users who would thoroughly enjoy this.
Nerdy, lonely Justin meets hot but quirky April in a small cafe and, eventually, they fall madly and deeply in love. Not long afterward a demon appears and drags poor April off to hell. Justin, distraught and heart broken, uses an ancient book of spells to summon his own demon to retrieve her.
In a weird, low-budget, community theater sort of way, this was wicked cool!
This is one of those films that, watching it, I have this creeping feeling that I am the exact audience for this film, that there is not much I would have changed had this been my project.
This is very much a theatre piece, with the single blackened set, the exits and entrances, and even Tragedy and Comedy presiding over the main character's memories. The film begins with our awkward and meek main character Justin sat in a summoning circle and performing what is obviously his first summoning ritual. He calls forth the demon Lo because his girlfriend has been recently nabbed by a demon and she conveniently left Justin with a demonic grimoire so he summons the demon which is bookmarked, hoping he can somehow get his girl back. With the exception of the initial and closing minute, the whole film is set in a private limbo of the summoning realm.
With so many strong points in this film, the cinematography was first to impress but the makeup absolutely floored me. Anyone who has read any of my prior reviews may have noticed that I favor practical makeup/fx to CG in horror, and this is a film that plainly proves the merit of using solely makeup to create its monsters. Besides our titular character, there are two other featured demons, a squealing green and mangy rat-thing hovering in the "corner" and a sly satirical singing demon Jeez who sports a Nazi-themed outfit and really reaches to the limits of this film's capacity for absurdity with his song and dance number for Justin about his girlfriend's fate. Lo, when it first appears on screen, is astoundingly creepy-beautiful and is wonderfully filmed, which brings me to the next strong point of this film, its cinematography. The lighting is like a live theatre stage setup, with Justin trapped in his summoning circle and other characters and flashback tableau entering and leaving the surrounding space through careful and masterful spotlighting of the otherwise utterly dark summoning space. The colors are crisp and all of the light shades hit showcase the incredible makeup.
Acting is pretty much point on here, especially since these actors are working from a superb script with very natural dialogue. The comedy bits work and the struggle of Justin vs. self is very nicely done. The one bit I sort of disliked but that I'm sure other people will love is the "monologues" where Justin speaks to the now talkative gash in his palm. It's not that this has been used before so much as this is the only spot where the makeup is flawed. It's not BAD makeuping for the budget, but it's simply not acceptable in comparison to the mastery of the three demon pieces.
This film is currently available on Netflix instant watch, and I strongly recommend you take time out of your schedule, however busy, to indulge in this bit of demonic dark comedy. A truly standout and original independent film, this is a lovely and rare gem from the American indie horror market.
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