Lo (2009)

MAY 16, 2010


The film Lo has been available on Netflix instant for a while now, but I wanted the DVD, because I figured it would have some cool extras, based on what little I knew about the film (chiefly, that it was shot for two grand in a single room). But sadly the DVD redefines bare-bones - the main menu has “Play” and “Scenes”. Not even some goddamn subtitles?

Though maybe the subs just couldn’t fit on the disc, since this is a very talky movie. If you want a lot of action and such, I’d steer very clear of this movie, as it’s essentially one long 80 minute conversation between a lovesick guy and the demon he has summoned to help him find his girlfriend. Their scenes take place in a single location, on the floor of a room that we cannot see. Flashback scenes take place in (intentionally) cheesily painted sets that wouldn’t look out of place in a grade school play. Sometimes writer/director Travis Betz works in jokes about the setup - at one point the demon (the titular Lo) claims he doesn’t like the setting and suggests mixing it up a bit, at which point the light over his head changes color. It’s a top notch sight gag.

And the minimalist approach also pays off in the end, though it’s a bit vague. My interpretation differs from others I talked to, which means I’m probably wrong, but mine is the only one that gives the “set” a deeper meaning beyond “it looked cool and was a way to save money”. So I dunno.

Betz’ methods to pad the film to a respectable running time aren’t quite as successful. Right off the bat I was worried, as it takes a full minute and a half for the title to appear in full on screen. As you might have noticed, Lo is a very short title (the 2nd shortest in HMAD history, after P), and thus shouldn’t take more than maybe half a second to appear. And in the middle of the movie our hero says “Goddammit” over and over for like a minute or so. And while I loved the first musical number (a 50s style pop ballad called “Demon Girl”), the 2nd I could have definitely done without. All told, there’s about 15 minutes that probably could have been shaven off the running time.

And yes, the demon singing does look a bit like Lorne from Angel, which is a distraction only exacerbated when he starts singing. So what? Name one monster/demon in recent horror movie history that didn’t slightly resemble an older one. And then compare that to Lo’s budget - familiarity or not, it and Lo are remarkable creations that I would have thought would cost more a piece than the entire film did. So shaddup!

What I really dug about the movie was that it took a very supernatural and strange approach to what is ultimately a very simple story, of a guy who is afraid to let go (again, this is going with my interpretation of the ending, which is that it was all in his head). Instead of the usual indie “hey let’s just sort of rip off Kevin Smith” approach to a guy who just had his heart broken, Betz and co. did something unique and original, and also found a bunch of capable actors (never a true indie film’s strong suit). Even with minimal characterization, I got to really like Ward Roberts (Justin), and even though he’s pretty much just sitting on the floor for the entire movie, he’s one of the better horror movie “heroes” in recent memory. More often than not, I’m caring about the male lead just because I am familiar with and like the actor (Ryan Reynolds in Amityville '05 comes to mind), but I don’t know this guy from Adam, and yet I was totally in his corner by the end of the first act. And Sarah Lassez is also a delight, playing what the AV Club might call a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but without the ironic detachment that usually makes me hate such characters (see: pretty much any Zooey Deschanel character).

Like I said earlier, the film won’t be for everyone, and even its biggest fans have an issue or two with it, but like I’ve also said more often - give me an original approach (story AND design) to a simple story and I’m on board. Even casual moviegoers complain that they don’t see enough originality anymore - I watch these things every day! So something that doesn’t remind me of 562 other movies is automatically a win for me. Whether or not it’s perfect is irrelevant - the movie could have been flat out BAD and I still would have been happy that it was at least doing something new and interesting. Kudos to all involved.

What say you?

HorrorBlips: vote it up!


  1. Just finished watching it and I loved it.

  2. Hi- I'm new to your blog and I'm already a fan. Just saw Lo not ten minutes ago and I had to see what else is out there about it. I have to say that I agree with your analysis pretty much all the way. I'm dying to hear more about your theory about the end. If you and your cohorts disagreed about whether it took place in Justin's head, I'd have been stoked to have taken part in that conversation. I have my own ideas, naturally (I took from it that April and Lo are the same being), but that just makes the movie more enjoyable. You're right- original ideas are the source of all happiness (especially in my beloved horror genre), but even better are original ideas with multiple interpretations.
    All the best,

  3. I just saw this movie ten minutes ago also, and had to read up on some of the lore behind it. The ending (SPOILER ALERT) to my interpretation, is that Lo and April are the same being. The main demonstration of this is that April crawls away from Justin at the end, and then *she* fades to become Lo. This provides a real sense of irony, which plays fools of us all until the end.

    Overall, I thought this was an excellent movie, and hope there are more just like it. And to think, I stumbled upon this movie by chance alone!

    Yeah Jeff, Lo is April. What I want to know about the ending is basically why didn't it have at least a semi happy ending? Other than that I loved the movie, just wish there was a little bit of text at the end saying "Justin poisoned himself, went to hell, and got to hang out with 'April' until the end of time"

  5. Wait. So Lo is April. Does that mean Lo loves Justin and was trying to see if Justin really loved "April"? When Lo said his legs 'were crushed when she returned', what does that mean? Oh I've never been so confused! Loved the movie, I thought it was very original and fun!

  6. Movie was hilarious, loved the sarcastic like comedy similar to what you would see in movies like army of darkness

  7. The legs broken was symbolic and that's when I knew lo was April, you don't want her to escape again break her legs! The beauty in this movie was that April was ultimately selfish as a demon would be, she wanted to feel love perhaps as a personal conquest, the poison scene was selected for it's ace at the end of the film to seal the deal that Justin did in fact love her. Lo is full of regret and self hatred because the irony of finding real love is that it weakens you as well as enhances you, after Justin screamed at lo demanding April, she had knew she couldn't convince him to let her go and she was forced to do the breaking up, hurting her as well as making the demon look weak as an evil beast..... Good show

  8. I really liked this movie. I disagree that it was all in his head. How'd you come to that conclusion? Lol!

  9. I think that it was all meant to be real but who knows? Lo being April was the same conclusion I came to but I thought that him lighting a fire at the end may be the start of another attempt to get april back/ contact her or find out what's happening to her in hell, if not then I guess he's just reminiscing

  10. yo i love it it's very funny and scary omg justin is a cute guy and i think jeez and lo are very funny demons and april omg i didn't expect he being lo i wish im lo or jeez very awesome demons


    Okay I'm sort of agreeing with everyone else. I think Lo is April. My reasoning?
    1. Why would Lo need the details of the first time they met, what would be the purpose?
    2. The would you do anything for love part, with justin drinking the poison. At the end when Lo saves Justin, it could basically be the same premise, saving Justin out of love.
    3. Lo basically at the end knows that Justin loves him so much, that Lo decided that he must finally show Justin the truth, so Justin can finally part ways.
    4. The broken legs, seems like that would be the best way to stop the demon from ever finding love on the outside again.
    5. If Lo really didn't care, after breaking the spell, Lo could of ate Justin.. but saved him.
    6. How would Lo have known what was on the next page of the book to make Lo be able to go in the circle unless he is april.

    So i agree he must be april.


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