On the Lo down
Love is a powerful thing. Not powerful enough for me to quote Meat Loaf or Whitesnake, but you get the idea. About 98% of all movies have a love interest and that includes horror movies. Of course, we'd never think of horror and romance mixing together as genres. Horror and comedy is widely accepted, but horror and romance is like water and oil to the majority of movie goers. That's not to say it can't be done and hasn't been done, it's just a very risky venture. You need a good mixture of horror along with the romance for it to work and it doesn't hurt to have an little something extra to keep things moving, like gore, or in today's movie's case, humor.
Lo is a 2009 romance/horror film written and directed by Travis Betz. Justin (Ward Roberts, MANswers, Sick Puppy) reads from a book that looks suspiciously like it is made of skin. He sits inside a pentagram inside his darkened apartment and calls forth a demon named Lo (Jeremiah Birkett, Homeland, Evan Almighty). Justin tells Lo that he has summoned him in order to find his girlfriend April (Sarah Lassez, Mad Cowgirl, The Wicked Within) who was dragged to Hell by a demon. Justin bears an inhuman claw mark on his chest as proof of the struggle. Lo brushes off Justin's demand, citing too many people being in Hell to find her, and begins to refer to him as “Dinner”. Undeterred, Justin orders him to find April and Lo accepts. He asks Justin to describe her and Lo projects the memory on a wall so he could watch as if Justin's memories were a play. April is awkward during their meeting and appears to make up her name on the spot. As the memory ends, Justin meets the demon who captured April, Jeez (Devin Barry, Crashing, Adam & Eve). Jeez tells Justin that he is there simply to see the “mortal who tamed the beast” and to see why “it” when in love with him. Jeez tells Justin, through song, of a demon birthed from the heart of dying soldier. The demon became one of Hell's best killers, but abandoned her post for the love of a human. Justin refuses to believe that April is a demon, but slowly begins to lose his mind the longer he sits in the pentagram. Lo reveals that he had actually helped April escape Hell and his legs were crushed when she was returned. With the powers of Hell against him, will Justin be able to save April and will he even want to knowing that she is actually a demon?
"Ewwww, tuna breath!"
Lo lies on the outer most reaches of the horror genre. True, it has demons in it and is based around the concept of there being a Hell, but you wouldn't compare it to say The Exorcist. I'm having a hard time trying to figure out just how this actually manages to get labeled a horror movie. There isn't any violence or blood in the movie and there are no psychological aspects to it. The movie focuses more on quirky humor, some of which is genuinely funny. Both Jeremiah Birkett and Devin Barry are quite funny and play their roles perfectly. I found Jeez's song entertaining even though it was very out of place and killed any sort of suspense the movie was still grasping. Of course, not all the humor works as we are “treated” to a scene of a bartender doing a goofy dance while making a drink. It's not funny and lasts waaaaaay too long. The makeup used for the demons looks very good, but when you see closeups of Jeez, you can clearly see they didn't completely cover around his eyes. Oops. The movie is an experimental, low-budget indie movie, so it's not like I was expecting Tom Savini-quality work, but that seems like a big mistake.
The story is essentially a take on Faust, with a dash of Orpheus, and the movie makes no bones about that fact. I mean, the story is mentioned in the movie, so it's not a secret. The problem is that the romance between Justin and April feels completely plastic and fake. They are in love because we're told they're in love instead of being shown. The character of April is a little too awkward for my liking and makes their romance that much more unbelievable. The movie doesn't provide good horror, so I was forced to focus on the romance, which wasn't good either. That just left me with the humor. The movie is quite ambitious and I give writer/director Travis Betz credit for creating something fairly unique. The movie was shot in only 3 days and has a creative style and visually different. The movie is laid out like a real play, which is good or bad depending on your personal preference. Some scenes worked very well in this format while others missed the mark.
"This one goes out to all your Hellspawn out there on Lover's Lane."
Lo is a romance wrapped in humor with just a touch of horror. The demons look very good (for the most part) and there are some very funny moments. The movie itself has a unique look that I have never seen before. There isn't a lot to the story and if you're expecting a lot of action or violence, you will be sorely disappointed. If you like Faust, you'll pick up on all the parallels and references. The romance between Justin and April is not believable and it really hurts the rest of the movie. When your romance/horror doesn't contain much horror and not very good romance, what do you have left? Guys making jokes in makeup and costumes.