Review: LASSO Is A Call Back To Simpler Times With It's Throw Horror Anywhere Approach
In the mid-eighties to early nineties, professional wrestling and horror had a lot in common. In wrestling, they gave everyone a gimmick. They took the idea of adding wrestling to anything and it creates something; sure, it’s was all ridiculous and whacky but it’s hard not to love the dentist brawler Issac Yankem DDS or the police officer Big Boss Man. Horror films had a similar approach, look at Dr. Giggles and Maniac Cop. Sometimes these ideas weren’t always the best, but they were fun. When they first showed up, they were so ridiculous that it worked and it was fun to see and then by the end of their run, they had served their purpose, and it was time to be over but you didn’t regret the character existing. They had given you the fun you wanted.
That’s Lasso, to a tee. Screenwriter Roberto Marinas and director Evan Cecil took an idea, in this case a rodeo, and mixed it with horror, and this is what we got . It’s fun, ridiculous, and by the time it’s over, you won’t regret having seen it but understand that it’s served it’s purpose.
Listen to this incredulous synopsis: “An Active Senior Tour group outing turns deadly when the crazed, bloodthirsty cowboys from a local rodeo attraction start abducting and killing people.” Yes, “active senior” means a bunch of elderly men and women. Including one member who carries a comb that is also a hidden knife. I point this out for no reason other than for you to fully understand that we are dealing with a film that doesn’t give any fucks about how absurd it is. This, however, is why it works.
Lasso is under the helm of Evan Cecil, who has overseen a handful of daytime schlock such as episodes of Wives with Knives and Cuff Me If You Can, shows that almost seem more like satire than reality. It’s dealing with these absolutely absurd situations that allows Cecil to be exactly the person to direct Lasso. Old people being murdered, cowboys using rodeo tools to kill, a reluctant hero who seems like the kind of person who could never survive, these are all finely in tune with the oddball situations of his similarly directed recreations of reality gone wrong, just amplified.
With the script of Marinas, what they manage to create is something that ultimately feels like a scare park gone wrong. It’s charmingly DIY, with a modest push to guarantee we understand we’re at the rodeo. Cowboy hats, hay bales, the scenery and costuming is sparse but we can vibe with it. Every new set piece and rodeo themed killing is decidedly “low budget” but never in a way that pulls you out of the movie. Instead, it feels like you’re walking through the different rooms of your local haunted house. This one just happens to be western themed.
Andrew Jacobs, of Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, is our “final boy” and is a refreshing change of pace for the character. He’s often emasculated and shown as anything but bold but is forced into a situation due to extenuating circumstances to overcome fear and learn just how brave he actually is. Sean Patrick Flannery earns the biggest credit here, playing a one-armed bull rider named Ennis. From the get go, his character is meant to be every bit as ridiculous as the premise of the film and Flannery plays it close to the chest, grounding a movie that is swirling around in a world of ludicrousness.
The kills are goofy fun, especially anything done on horseback. It’s gimmicky but you should know that going in and as long as you can lean into it, you’re going to have some fun with the film. It plants itself firmly in it’s ideals and because of this, makes for a horror movie that screams “early-nineties” in the best way possible. Themed murders based around lassos and hay bale hooks just double down on the commitment and you have to applaud Cecil for never easing off the pedal.
Lasso is a fun ride. It’s something that’s been missing from horror. That elusive middle ground between camp for camps-sake and the high level studio horror we’ve been so blessed with lately. Instead, Lasso is smartly able to tow the line and induce the feelings of rental store horror. To bring it back to wrestling terms, we don’t need another parade of Sparky Plugg’s and Shockmasters but the world could use a couple Honky Tonk Man’s.