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Review: LASSO (2018)

You can’t say that imagination is truly dead in Hollywood. LASSO, from writer Roberto Marinas (HEADGAME) and director Evan Cecil, tells the tale of a rodeo run by killer cowboys powered by horse steroids terrorizing, among others, a busload of senior citizens. It’s certainly different, but is it good?

Brother and sister Simon (Andrew Jacobs PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES) and Kit (Lindsey Morgan BEYOND SKYLINE, THE 100) are in charge of an outing for a local senior citizen’s group, a trip to the rodeo. However, after a nasty accident, the trip is cut short. Simon runs back to get something one of the women left behind, big mistake. Kit and the others are forced to flee after witnessing a murder, leaving him stranded.

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They don’t get far before the bus breaks down. Simon meanwhile is captured and held along with Ennis (Sean Patrick Flanery, ASSAULT ON VA-33, HIGH MOON), Rosheen (Heather Mignon) and Trish (Skyler Cooper, HALLOWEEN PARTY). Can either group survive?

Like the previous slasher from Dread Central Presents, TERRIFIER, LASSO has a decidedly retro feel to it. The killers dress in cowboy/rodeo gear, and their weapons fit the theme. A bullwhip with a hook on the end, a branding iron that carries a lethal electrical charge, etc. There’s also very little backstory as to who they are or why they’re doing this. Which is too bad, this is one time the origin story could have been really interesting.

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LASSO isn’t shy about putting the blood on the screen, using mostly practical effects. There’s plenty of nasty, painful death dealt out in this film, and it’s frequently quite messy and slow. The film has that mean-spirited feel of older films, at times pushing close to torture porn territory with the treatment of its victims.

While the violence isn’t watered down, there are a couple of rather silly deaths. I’ve actually known a couple of lifters who used horse roids, and they work, but they don’t make you strong enough to swing an adult around on the end of a rope.

Where LASSO really stands out is the way it flips the usual stereotypes. Normally heroic cowboys are the villains and the heroes are not the standard horror screamers. A bus full of senior citizens, Ennis the one-armed rodeo rider, and while Trish is never identified as trans, she’s played by a trans actor. The film takes them seriously and doesn’t treat them as freaks or play them for cheap laughs.

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Despite some bad dialogue and occasional CGI blood, LASSO is one for horror fans and especially slasher fans. It could have used a bit more backstory, especially for the enigmatic Rodeo Clown (Michael Gomes, OZU) and its knowledge of steroids and their effects are shaky, but it is one of the best straight-up horror flicks of the year.

Epic Pictures will release LASSO through its Dread Central Presents label on November 13th.

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