The Scoop: 2009 NR, Directed by Travis Betz and starring Jeremiah Birkett, Sarah Lassez, and Ward Roberts
Tagline: Love is Hell.
Summary Capsule: Justin loses the love of his life to a demon who attacks him and takes his girlfriend April off to Hell. Naturally, his response is to use her skin-covered book of evil to summon a demon named Lo to bring her back to him.
Heather’s Rating: 10 out of….something funny. Look, I can’t joke here. This was a great movie and you need to see it.
Heather’s Review: I don’t expect the movie I’m about to review to ever be a part of pop culture, although it really should be, but I do expect that everyone on this site heed my good word and see this film. You honestly can’t miss this if you have any love of offbeat fare, especially dark humor. And don’t be afraid to share it with your friends, folks. I watched this with a couple of people that I never would have expected to enjoy this, but it turns out they loved it.
You’ll want to pay doubly good attention to this next sentence if you want to know the best possible way to experience this movie: This is not a horror film. It’s an easy mistake to make if you’ve only glanced at the cover and read the description before hitting play. I almost did the same thing, but managed to catch a glimpse of the genre tags describing this as a “black comedy” “cult comedy” and “dark humor”. My eyebrows did that funny little “Do-you-smell-what-the-Rock-is-cookin’?” thingy and then I just went for it. And then I just fell for it.
The opening scene starts by showing our main character Justin in near-complete darkness, lovingly crafting a pentagram on his bedroom floor (like ‘ya do). He’s following instructions in a Necronomicon-esque tome, focusing on a page with lots of mention of something called “Lo”. The scene is serious, thick with anxiety and tension. The eerie music and chanting swell, then Justin realizes he forgot something and hops out and back into the pentagram, knocking over a candle in the process. The resulting sound of pained wailing in the background got a chuckle out of everyone in the room.
Things get ominous again as Justin finally figures out what he’s supposed to do to complete the ritual. The room goes black. Here enters Lo, and I have to say that the first time I saw the entrance of Lo serves as one of the creepiest things I’ve seen in a long time.
After the initial attempt at scaring the crap out of Justin, Lo breaks down into a sarcastic, demeaning tone in which he starts to berate the guy for summoning him. Justin, completely unfazed, stands his ground and reminds Lo who is in charge. Lo responds by naming him “Dinner”, and thus begins the back-and-forth banter that I so love about this film.
Justin reveals that he’s summoned Lo to scour the depths of Hell for his love, April, who was stolen by demons. Lo continually attempts to worm out of this task, first by making it clear that Hell’s kind of a big place and thus the chances are slim to none he’ll find her. No good. Lo then tries revealing that April is really a demon and their relationship was all a lie. Nope, he’s not going for that. Eventually things come down to Lo threatening Justin and tricking him into possible eternal damnation. Through it all, Justin will not be moved until Lo brings April back to him.
The story is told almost solely through dialogue between Lo and Justin. This dialogue takes place with Justin in, and Lo just outside of, that pentagram the entire time. The only switching of scenery we get is through Justin’s memory of his relationship with April, which Lo projects in front of them like a stage play. This minimalistic approach, this simple and bare telling of such an interesting story, is what really makes this movie stand out as such an intriguing work.
We don’t get fancy effects (save for the amazing job done on Lo’s makeup). We don’t even get more than a three-person main cast of characters. What we do get are intentionally cheesy stage productions, which only serve to add to the hilarious oddity of the situation. A favorite touch of mine is when we can see the imagined backstage crew waiting for their cues and providing prop assistance for Justin’s memories.
Speaking of actors, sort of, these guys were really quite good. April was beautiful, quirky and warm, Justin almost comes off as a chump at first, but pulls it together with his strength and determination, and Lo…well he’s just a ton of fun to watch whenever he’s on screen and basically became the star of it all for me. It didn’t hurt these guys that they got dialogue that was very cleaver and, at times, beautiful.
There are lots of sophomoric jokes and instances of filthy mouth, and that puts some people off, but honestly that came across as believable to me. If I were to meet a demon from Hell I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it had the language skills of one of the cast members of American Pie. I could have gone without the minute long usage of “g- d-“, though.
Oh and as for things I could have done without, the scene with May and June was almost enough the first time through to make me give up on this movie. When I went back to it it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember, but I feel compelled to warn you that at 37 minutes in you might feel your will to live bleed right out of you. If so, just skip past that scene or muscle on through. The story that this film has to tell, and the surprising way it tells it, are well worth it.
I love creating unholy abominations to describe movies, so I leave you with this: Lo is kind of like the result of Dead and Breakfast having a tryst with Army of Darkness that was laced with What Dreams May Come, and the whole crazy night ended with M. Night Shyamalan showing up at the last minute and making everyone cry.
- Danse Macabre playing during Justin’s memory of how he met April.
- Is it just me or did the bartender’s dance music sound like something off the Katamari Damacy soundtrack?
- Remember, kids: When in a battle against a demon, a shot to the head with a finger pistol will buy you a few extra seconds.
- The makeup was done by Tom Devlin’s 1313fx. Given the amazing job he did on Lo, I wanted to see what else this guy has done. Turns out he did the makeup that I lambasted so heartily in Princess of Mars, which explains why Jeez looked kind of crap around the eyes (even Lo, if you look hard enough).
- The original music, created by Scott Glasgow, was spot-on and haunts you after you’ve finished the film.
- A demon doing jazz hands is likely the best thing I’ve seen in a movie this year.
Lo: Now clean the sh*t from your pants and tell me what you want.
Lo: What’s your name?
Lo: That’s a terrible name. Doesn’t fit your future. Allow me to baptize you…ah! “Dinner”.
Justin: It’s Justin.
Lo: Dinner! You have to let go of the past.
Justin: I summoned you. You have to obey my charge.
Lo: That might be loosely true, but I’m under no obligation to respect you and, given the opportunity, I WILL eat you.
Justin: You took her.
Jeez: I know! Got a medal for it, too. [Puts the medal around his neck] Now that’s what I call pretty.
Lo: [sarcastically] Yes! Her name is the rain that brings the flowers. Look, I’m sure you two had a deep, emotional connection but the simple fact is that Hell is a big place. Kinda roomy, endless amount of souls been around since the dawn of man. We don’t keep records.
Justin: I’ll wait.
Lo: What? No! What?
Justin: While you look for her.
Lo: No. Nooo. I’m busy.
Justin: I, I’m having a conversation with my brain through my hand.
[voice]: Miss me?
Justin: Shut up! Shut up, my brain!
Lo: Ha ha ha. You’re silly.
Jeez: I’m gonna tell you a story. Through song!
Lo: The safety of that circle hath swelled your ego something fierce.
Waiter: I assure you, sir, I am the best bartender in this room.
Jeez: Stop that! You look like a child who has proudly sh*t his pants.
Justin [to Jeez, about love]: There’s no way I can define something you’ll never feel.
Jeez: Warning: You die here and you belong to us
Justin: You got a song about that?
Jeez: Actually I do…but it’s missing the bass line and hasn’t been mixed yet so you don’t get to hear it!
April: I’m not a woman, Justin. I’m not human.
Justin: But you love me.
Justin: What do you know of how we feel, except what you get out of us through torture? You demons claim to be all powerful, but you’re beaten by your jealously toward us.
April: Strange place to be picking up girls.
Justin: If you tell me you won’t eat me, I’ll make you my wife.
Lo: Oh! Oh, oh, oh! Dinner! Question: Did your girlfriend just make up her name?
Lo: Frightened children shouldn’t play with Pentagrams.
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