It seems like the latest trend of independent movies, or movies that go straight to streaming, is to take on the various kinds of modern media that make people famous today. Recently I watched and reviewed movies like Vengeance and Not Okay which offer their own unique commentaries on influencers and podcasters, both of which are media that people often try to utilize to seek fame and fortune. The latest offering from XYZ Films is a nail-biter of a thriller that presents the night in a life of a YouTube influencer who confronts sexual predators. Featuring a tour-de-force performance by actor Wes Dunlap, Low Life is a film not to miss.

With his own YouTube channel which has earned him a rather impressive following and fan base, YouTuber Benny Jansen (Wes Dunlap) has used the video platform to take the law into his own hands. Seemingly inspired by NBC’s Christopher Hansen, Benny has his own loud, obnoxious style when confronting predators. Already under the watchful radar of his local police, he refuses to give up his “calling” and relentlessly continues to bait and expose abusive adults. His most recent target is a school teacher and father named Jason (Lucas Neff), a creepy adult male whom his daughter’s best friend Nicole (Lucy Urbano) knows what he does secretly.

Nicole, an ardent fan of Benny’s happily tips him off, but also wishes to help expose Jason. Uncomfortable with involving a minor in his already risky work, Benny strongly suggests that she remain at home while he strategically sets up a meeting with Jason. Working with his closest friends Sam (Jake Dvorsky) and Ryan (Hunter Milano), Benny believes he has a foolproof plan to bust Jason, but things go horribly wrong instead.

Co-written by Hunter Milano and Noah Rotter, director Tyler Michael James delivers an utterly stressful and potent movie that is guaranteed to make anyone interested in becoming a YouTube predator catcher think twice about such pursuits. I must applaud the great writing by Milano and Rotter, because their script is absolutely exceptional when it comes to razor sharp commentary on the world of modern media and the people who seek fame and forture through it. The movie is solidly directed, but some of the choices left me a bit bewildered. Nevertheless, Tyler Michael James does a fine job in bringing the story to life, and definitely benefits from a great cast.

Before I discuss the main star of the movie, I would like to give due praise to the supporting cast members. First of whom is Lucas Neff is mind-blowingly disturbing as the predator Jason. Throughout most of the movie, the character is rather dull and unengaging, but that possum ruse is totally intentional. As this movie has its slow-boiling moments, the big payoff comes when Jason reveals who he really is. That is when Neff gets to shine as an actor. I could reveal more, but I do not wish to spoil the movie any further.

As Benny’s informant and adoring fan Nicole, Lucy Urbano performs well, with just the right amount of innocence and beautifully portrays the changes her character goes through, as this night is definitely causing her psychological trauma. As the buddies Sam and Ryan, Jake Dvorsky and Hunter Milano are both great in their roles and certainly show an impressive range when things go South. And as for Benny Jansen himself, Wes Dunlap is absolutely incredible. He nearly perfectly embodies the online persona his character has created for himself, but goes beyond the facade, as the night devolves into a nightmare.

Low Life is not in theaters, but is getting a release today on VOD. If looking for a suspenseful and smartly written thriller, I must highly recommend it. It is one of the better movies that I have seen this year which takes on the world of modern media and has intelligent and important commentary to offer regarding its subject.

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