Lowlife. 2017. Directed by Ryan Prows. Screenplay by Tim Cairo, Jake Gibson, Shaye Ogbonna, Ryan Prows, & Maxwell Michael Towson.
Starring Nicki Micheaux, Ricardo Adam Zarate, Jon Oswald, Shaye Ogbonna, Santana Dempsey, Mark Burnham, Jose Rosete, Jearnest Corchado, & Clayton Cardenas.
Not Rated. 96 minutes.
Monstruo’s also symbolic of redemption, and whether it can be attained by everyone after everything they’ve done. Throughout the stories weaving together redemption is an element constantly at play, though it’s always tenuous if it’s actually attainable or if, sometimes, it’s too far out of reach.
One big part of Lowlife is how Prows illustrates that being a piece of shit is an equal opportunity personality trait – no matter your colour, culture, religion, bad people come in all shapes, sizes, and sorts.
In the end, people from different backgrounds and cultures and races come together in order to combat the greater evils at play in American society, such as Teddy (Mark Burnham) in league with ICE, and so on. A significant scene involves El Monstruo and Randy (Jon Oswald), the ex-con with a swastika tattooed across his entire face. Randy is the only one who speaks to Monstruo both in Spanish and like a human being, resulting in the unlikely group teaming up to take on Teddy’s corrupt operation. This convergence of people from all walks of life is ultimately the biggest statement Prows makes, in an attempt to show how, despite certain differences, America’s biggest strength is a multicultural nation in which such people come together to fight against corruption and injustice.
As I write this, ICE are separating parents from their children, tearing families apart all because of imaginary, man-made borders. Other Americans are calling the federal government on the human beings next to them, simply for not being a legal citizen. Only fitting Lowlife begins with a lone, rogue ICE agent, in the dead of night, making a mass arrest at a motel while also threatening the black woman running the place when she questions what he’s doing. I challenge anyone to try offering up proof this movie isn’t spot on where America currently exists socially and politically. It’s impossible. Prows and Co. have captured the desperate essence of what it’s like to live in society without power while those with all the power only abuse it to the detriment of those beneath them.
Lowlives control the lives of others, at every echelon of society, whether it’s Teddy, the local lifelong MPs dragging their feet just to get a pension, Donald Trump, or otherwise. They bring out the worst qualities in others, the basest of actions and the ugliest of reactions, too. Lowlife shows all walks of life coming together in a Trumpian America to fight against the bigger evils.
If I had to state a thesis for this excellent movie, it’d be that we’re all more connected than we realise, and so, if we continue dividing – and not in terms of the fake division preached by people who support actual neo-Nazis and misogynists, et cetera – and we continue to resist seeing the shared humanity between us across the many walks of life, then those at the top of an ugly capitalist, nationalist food chain will continue eating, using, and discarding the powerless as they see fit. Worst comes to worst, if we all go down, at least we go down together, and even those of us seeking redemption can find it if we don’t let the lowlives win.