Studio: Dread Central Presents
Director: Evan Cecil
Writer: Roberto Marinas
Producer: Evan Cecil, Elaine Gibson, Todd Myers
Stars: Sean Patrick Flanery, Lindsey Morgan, Andrew Jacobs, Benedita Pereira, Karen Grassle, Skyler Cooper, Tom Cokenias, Travis Andre Ross, Heather Mignon
Killer cowboys terrorize a group of senior citizens and former performers after hours at a murderous rodeo.
“Lasso” isn’t merely bizarre. It’s batty in weird ways that make the movie faintly interesting only as a clumsy curiosity.
The elderly men and women of an ‘Adventures for Active Seniors’ group have selected a cut-rate local rodeo for their latest outing. Or maybe that’s just where young caretakers Kit and Simon are forcing them to go whether they like it or not.
Hackett Rodeo is a peculiar place. Outside the gate, two lone protestors unconvincingly accost patrons with animal rights pamphlets. The midway, which resembles a sad church carnival, hosts a gift shop where one woman excitedly purchases a shabby raccoon tail keychain to put on her purse. There’s also a ‘Test of Strength’ stall run by a flexing carnie eager to insultingly emasculate Simon. Simon responds by muttering “muscle f*cker” under his breath and then turning yellow as soon as the carnie calls him out. Are we supposed to root for the alpha bro, who is literally named ‘Brodeo,’ or the pouty coward in this confrontation of two posturing a-holes?
The rodeo features such thrill-a-minute entertainment as a hay-baling competition and a beauty pageant between three nondescript women for the ‘Rodeo Queen’ crown. Festivities conclude when a horse breaks its leg after bucking off one-armed cowboy Ennis. Instead of carting away the injured animal for humane euthanizing behind the scenes, cowhands simply shoot the horse in its head in front of the spectators. Thanks for coming folks, be sure to tell your friends!
As if events aren’t odd enough in and of themselves, there’s no proper sense of scope or flow to these setup scenes. Montages contain nearly no music and often cut to irrelevant inserts. Camera angles cheat to hide absentee extras. When the rodeo finally wraps and the seniors are left as the last people to leave, the fairgrounds turn into a total ghost town in under two minutes. Shots also suddenly darken like the crew lost a race to get their day done before the sun set. From amateurish staging to herky-jerky rhythm, “Lasso” simply feels off.
“Lasso” doesn’t really feature a story, but does put a vague plot into play. For unknown reasons without so much as a slight whiff of a possible explanation, Hackett Rodeo’s cowboys are killers, and their after hours agenda has the senior citizens targeted for terrorizing. “Lasso” includes at least two shots of murderous men juicing up with horse steroids that immediately give them the power of Popeye’s spinach. But if the movie means to tap some deeper theme involving toxic masculinity, its message is lost in the meaningless misogyny of women punched in the face for no better reason than to be a brutal brawler adjacent to ‘torture porn.’
“Lasso’s” primary protagonists feature an amputee, a spry sexagenarian, and a transgender person. Potential for progressiveness and creative characterizations runs dry at a skin-deep level however. Ennis’ missing arm is only good for one motivational monologue that doesn’t even light the intended fire under Simon’s annoyingly persistent inability to take action. Stunted growth for other arcs renders everyone else’s individuality effectively interchangeable.
A sense of humor could salvage some of the movie’s meanness with an accent of dark comedy, except “Lasso” has no self-awareness of its absurdity. I’ve seen other sources use the word “fun” while erroneously coloring the film as comedic. Although it probably should, “Lasso” doesn’t actually play anything for intentional laughs, not even the sight of Ennis losing his other arm as he becomes a resilient pincushion akin to Monty Python’s Black Knight. Like its squandered slate of unlikely heroes, “Lasso” torches an opportunity to hit on a humorous hook that would offer a much-needed flavor of distinctness.
It isn’t only the film’s undercooked fiction failing to make sense. Characters don’t possess the heft or the depth to be intriguing, making it a mystery why talent would be attracted to a hollow script. Outside of its setting, “Lasso” misses out on unique meat to make it more than a meager slasher, creating a conundrum involving why anyone elected to fund a rather run-of-the-mill indie. Based on the unappealing aesthetic, superficial story, and charmless horror, the bigger question asks, why should viewers be excited about “Lasso?”
Review Score: 40