Directed by: Franklin Correa
Starring: Franklin Correa, Lester Greene, Macquell James, Bruno Barros, Sandra Fernandez, Greta Quispe, Jorge Valentin
Bobby, Darius and Chucho are three friends who find themselves acting as middlemen for two sisters, Shelly and Sandra, when they approach the guys to help them sell a sacred artefact worth millions of dollars. Little do they know however that a powerful black magic priest called Lyco is also looking to obtain the artefact and is willing to kill to get what he desires.
Lyco is the second feature that I've seen from independent film-maker Frankly Correa (I've previously reviewed THUG) and I was very pleasantly surprised to see him mixing things up more here. Gone is the "cinema verite" approach and in its place are more structured scenes, an atmospheric score and a colour pallette which brings to mind the Grindhouse movies.
The opening sequence, in which a young woman is abducted and forced to become part of a black magic ritual, is stunning. The camera angles, the editing, the music, the acting all come together to make a really excellent scene that even some CGI fog can't ruin. There is a similarly good sequence when Lyco is invited into the home of a well-meaning but very naïve young woman and enslaves one of her friends to do his bidding.
The script has a very "Maltese Falcon" feel, with different factions trying to obtain a small wooden carving of an elephant which is meant to contain powerful magic. However instead of Sam Spade we have these three well-meaning guys who are way out of their depth.
The minus points in this film mainly come down to budget issues. For example, all the sound seems to have been recorded from just one source so when you have characters talking over each other it gets messy, especially when they are in a large room with an echo.
Franklin Correa is doing a good job of delivering off-kilter supernatural stories featuring a diverse ethnic cast. However I feel he would be better served by reducing the size of his own roles within his films. This isn't a criticism of his acting but his ability to direct and act in a scene at the same time: the scenes where he's in front of the camera feel a lot looser than when he's behind it.
The film works best when it's following Lyco. He's a mysterious dark force leaving a pile of bodies in his wake and the film really comes alive when he's performing his rituals and just being creepy and mysterious.
Compared to the simpler (but effective) approach of THUG, LYCO is a much more technically accomplished film which largely eschews the guerilla film-making approach of its predecessor (there are still some street scenes which look like they were filmed on the fly) and provides some solid set pieces, including black magic rituals and even a decent fight scene. Film by film, Franklin Correa is building a solid rep as an independent filmmaker.
6 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)