Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Director Evan Cecil delivers all the grisly scenes you would expect from this scenario, but they play out in ways that might surprise you."

When a group of elderly people climb out of their coach to begin their day at the rodeo, they are approached by activists protesting about animal cruelty. Animals kept in small cages, forced breeding and branding are listed among their concerns and it's almost like a horror movie check-list. If you're going to do rodeo horror, you might as well go the whole hog. Director Evan Cecil delivers all the grisly scenes you would expect from this scenario, but they play out in ways that might surprise you.

To begin with there's the presence of the elderly protagonists, a rare sight in horror films, where older people are usually either monstrous or the first to die. Suffice it to say that that's not the way things happen here, with Karen Grassle's Lillian, in particular, proving that you don't need to be young and strong to make life difficult for the bad guys. Younger characters also get their due, with the group's two assistants and a handful of locals caught up in the carnage when they linger at the rodeo after the main show is over, having seen something that worries them. It seems that its owners like to put on late night shows for their own entertainment. We don't get a whole lot more explanation then that, but we don't need to - the film quickly plunges us into the action and only slows down intermittently for a bit of the brooding that's essential to its western vibe.

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Working out who will survive and who won't isn't easy here, for all that the film sticks close to formula in the general shape of its plot. Young care worker Simon (Andrew Jacobs) makes an unlikely hero in a genre that usually focuses on women but keeps viewers rooting for him throughout much of the running time. There's a deliberately OTT turn from Sean Patrick Flanery as a one-armed man who seems to be impossible to kill, and there's no shortage of chances to die in a film that really delivers on violence. Although there are some good gore effects, a lot is also conveyed by suggestion, ans as so often in cinema, this tends to be more disturbing - nothing can compete with a suitably provoked imagination.

Given the western theme, this is no simple slice n' dice shocker - there comes a moment when our heroes have had enough and have gotta do what they've gotta do. This allows for a final showdown that's a bit more complex and makes a change from all the running around.

Lasso isn't a film that you should go into expecting depth or layers of meaning. It's aiming to please a very specific audience, however, and it does that well, with a mixture of inventive brutality and unlikely comedy that will have fans cheering. For best results, watch with a group of friends and a good supply of beer.

Reviewed on: 26 Aug 2018
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A group of people, including a senior citizens' club, fall foul of the vicious owners of a rodeo.

Director: Evan Cecil

Writer: Roberto Marinas

Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Lindsey Morgan, Andrew Jacobs, Karen Grassle, Thomas Cokenias

Year: 2017

Runtime: 97 minutes

Country: US


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