September 12, 2012
Seth Smith, Darcy Spidle
Seth Smith, Darcy Spidle
Chik White as Asa
Kate Hartigan as Elle
Mitchell Wiebe as Damon
Would you believe me if I told you that Lowlifeis about two complete losers who just want to get profoundly high? Not smoke a little reefer and devour nine bags of Nacho Cheese Doritos high, completely incapacitated, out of the gourd high. Well, it doesn’t matter if you believe that or not, that’s exactly what this film is about. Nothing more, nothing less. Interesting as it is, that’s not to say that the picture is a disappointment, or lacks entertainment value, it’s just to say that this one is extremely limited in scope. Unless you like to suck on star fish and trip out, you may find this one on the disappointing side. If that’s your bag, this one may open passageways you never even knew existed.
And that’s what happens in this picture. A down and out, introverted musician and her off and on boyfriend like to suck on star fish (they’re referred to as slugs in the film), getting higher than a kite from the liquid excreted by the fish. I’m not too savvy on my star fish info, so I can’t speak much on how accurate all of this is, but I’m not going to go suck on a fish to find out, and director Seth Smith sells the act well enough to believe it’s a possibility. So much so in fact, that when Elle accidentally leaves the cooler the fish are kept in open, thus killing the star fish, we know that it’s about to get tense. You won’t find an addict alive happy to see their stash done away with. But there’s a backup plan, and these two are off, intent on obtaining more of the mind altering creatures, which leads the viewer to another strange, disjointed chapter of the film, where we experience more of what we’ve been experiencing during the first two acts.
This is one of those productions that some will love and some will hate. It really all boils down to whether or not you’re into avant-garde films. If you favor unconventional flicks that force viewers to absorb a story that really is no story, but more a twisted character examination, you’ll get a kick out of this. If movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas grab your attention, maybe a film likeLowlife will leave you feeling quite satisfied. I, for one, don’t really care for these kinds of pics. A quality story, or, at the very least some eye popping visuals and smooth action scenes are required to keep my tail planted in my seat. Lowlife is bereft of both of most of those qualities, but there’s an audience for this one, there’s no doubt.
Anytime a picture like Lowlife slides across the desk, I know I’m in for an awkward viewing adventure. Perhaps my mind just operates on a level that’s too… straight forward (for lack of a better term) to really appreciate these artsy efforts. The customary is safe for me, and I can’t imagine seeing that change any time soon. In my world, a quality conflict, a strong resolution and some memorable and fleshed out characters can get me by just fine. In the world of Seth Smith, things probably move at a completely different rate of speed. At the end of the day, Lowlife is well-acted, and there are some compelling cinematography techniques put to work. The option to go black and white for the bulk of the film feels very appropriate and it actually empowers some of the more rudimentary effects (the “mud people” are a great example). There are a handful of shots that I can’t see working all that well in color, but the monochromatic feel of the picture allows for these effects and filters to function successfully. The pacing is steady, and while I wouldn’t have minded seeing 10-15 minutes trimmed from the final product, it isn’t as though there’re significant lags in the flick.
The combination of uniqueness and limitations of the pic actually minimalizes what I can discuss. The truth is, there really isn’t much more to say for Lowlife. It’s a weird, experimental feature that could very well draw a cult following. It could conceivably disappear just as easily. It’s tough to predict the future for this one, but if Smith continues to make unusual features like this, he could well turn it into an embraced trademark style. Lowlife isn’t your average flick, and I actually wouldn’t even consider it horror, but I was blown away by a few shots, and the concept as a whole was enough to make me think twice. Oddball flick, and you may just find it gratifying. This is one that has to be seen to be properly judged, and chances are everyone’s verdict is going to differ to some degree.