An obviously corrupt ICE agent bust through the door of a motel room dragging out the inhabitants then lining them up on their knees and cuffing them. The motel owner Crystal (Nicki Micheaux) confronts the agent only to receive a gun in her face. The illegals are taken to the basement of a Taco shop where they are hosed down and prepped for organ harvesting. All except a young girl who is thrown in a room to be part of Teddy Bear's (Mark Burnham) prostitution ring.
Monsters the first titled sequence introduces El Monstruo (Ricardo Adam Zarate) a Luchador mask wearing heavy for Teddy Bear who married to Teddy's pregnant daughter Kaylee (Santana Dempsey). El Monstruo gives an impassioned speech about his family's tradition how he's a runt that could not live up to his fathers and ancestors stature until he found his rage. El Monstruo speech is directed to the daughter of a thug that owes Teddy money. The Thug returns won't pay leading to a confrontation where we first see the results of an El Monstruo fit of rage.
In the next chapter Fiends the relationship between Teddy, Crystal and Kaylee is clarified. Crystal and her Husband Dan (King Orba) were such drug fiends that they sold their daughter to Teddy for money to feed their habits. Crystal also has a habit of buying items that are never opened but sit in boxes as clutter filling up their room at the motel and their mini-van.
Chapter 3 Thugs introduces Teddy's embezzling accountant Keith (Shanye Ogbonna) picking up his childhood friend Randy (Jon Oswald) from prison. Randy who's a mixture of Eminem, Vanilla Ice and Snowhas a large swastika tattooed on his face forced by the Arian nation when he was inside. This vignette provides the most humour as Randy tries to navigate through the ethnic neighbourhoods of L.A. with the universally hated symbol on his face not to mention he is being chauffeured around by his black friend. The pair loose out on a confrontation with Teddy compelled to kidnap pregnant Kaylee who's to provide a kidney for Dan.
All of the characters come together in the final section Criminals. Unexpected connections are established while long overdue ones are made with Nicki's Micheaux's Crystal leading the cast as she has the largest scope involvement with the other charters in the film. Mark Burnham is very strong as the menacing but reasonable Teddy while Richardo Adam Zarate blackout raging Luchador steals scenes as the sound cuts when his rage scream builds leading to an aftermath of violent deaths and carnage.
Lowlife is a welcomed new entry into the tradition of non-linear violent thrillers featuring the 99%. The violence is harsh, the players morals questionable but a strong script, rich visuals and killer score put the film right in the sweet spot of the genre. It's a gripping feature from first time director Ryan Prows that audience will want to see then wait with anticipation for is next project.
**** Out of 4.
Lowlife | Ryan Prows | U.S.A. | 2017 | 96 Minutes.
Tags: I.C.E., Illegal Immigrants, Organ Harvesting, Luchidor, Protector, Taco Shop, Drug Addict, Ex- Con, Prostitution Ring.