Reviewed by: JimmyO
What's it about
A man who’s true love is taken away, summons a demon to help him find his girl. But the demon he has called upon has a strange sense of humor… and he also likes to talk a lot. And I mean, A LOT.
Is it good movie?
Occasionally, I’ll watch a movie that I hang on to for a day or so. Not one that sticks with you because it is so powerful, but one that lingers on the border between good and bad. Travis Betz‘ Lo is one of those films. There is a whole lot of originality in this tale of romance and demons, but it sometimes feels a tad pretentious. In many ways, I could see this film explored on stage, as it really is a very theatrical experience. The sets are minimal, maybe even a little avante garde, and the action consists of heavy dialogue. They even throw in a couple of musical numbers for good measure. But it is such an odd experience that it sometimes feels difficult to warm up to. It is simply, a conversation with two men, well, a man and a demon. The demon even sort of looks like Jim Carrey in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but he was still a tad creepy looking.
What the hell am I talking about here? Well, we have a story about a man named Justin (Ward Roberts) who summons a demon called “Lo” (Jeremiah Birkett). It seems that the love of Justin’s life, April (Sarah Lassez) has been taken by another demon, one which attacked Justin. The entire story is told with minimal lighting, as Justin has created a pentagram to sit in to protect himself from whatever comes from below. This includes a series of candles spread around the circle (I want to try this at home)! He spends almost the entire film in this small circle, as Lo and a couple of other characters try and get him out of his safety. As this lovelorn fellow commands Lo to bring back his April, he learns a few things about his past, thanks to the demon’s love of theatre. Each memory is created on a “stage” that features two gold painted faces peaking out from the curtain, each one making strange facial expressions. You can even see the smaller characters hanging out off-stage quite often during the “memory performances”.
For much of the film, I felt that Justin was always playing catch up with the audience. It is not hard to figure out most of the upcoming events (although I still question the ending a bit), but it is sometimes fun to watch the verbal tennis match between the characters. Both Roberts and Birkett are good as they try to battle with words about what each player wants. Yet, due to the budget there is not much to look at besides to dark, shadowy blokes. And the conversation tends to drag and lose momentum as the third act finally arrives. That’s not to say I wasn’t intrigued by the bizarre events, I was, but it sometimes felt as if it was trying too hard. Still, this is a short film comparatively (around 70 minutes), and for the most part it held my attention. There is some truly clever writing going on here, and the actors are more than capable to take it on. It is clear that this is an ultra low budget film, so it was smart to focus on story and character and less on action.
As for Lo himself, I was impressed with most of the make up effects here. I did find that each of the demon characters looked like something from the past, I still give credit for making it look much better than it could have. After I had watched the film, I didn’t really love it. At times, I could even say I just didn’t like it… but for some reason, it always brought me back in. Although the demons here seem to be kind of pussies if you ask me. But in all seriousness, Travis Betz is a unique filmmaker, and I’d rather have more of something strange and full of itself as opposed to something hollow and empty.
Video / Audio
I didn’t love Lo, but I didn’t hate it either. I was however sort of fascinated by it. I liked the make up effects and I liked much of the dialogue. But sometimes, it seemed to pat itself on the back a little too freely. As clever and original it was, there are moments that fail to live up to what it might’ve been. This is a strange and often effective fantasy. But be warned gore hounds, this is definitely more of an intellectual ride, there are no real scares, no real nudity and there is certainly no real gore (although there is an Evil Dead inspired hand gag along with other obvious Evil Dead influences). If you like the more art house inspired fantasy films, you will want to give this a try. But if you are not into heavy dialogue and a theatrical atmosphere, you best stay high and lo away from this.