written by Roberto Marinas
directed by Evan Cecil
by Walter Chaw Trish is the star of Lasso. Ostensibly a secondary character, she's played by trans activist Skyler Cooper (who identifies with masculine pronouns) with confidence, beauty, and strength. After the initial "is she a boy or a girl?" question asked by congenital screw-up Simon (Andrew Jacobs), Trish is just accepted as this embodiment of strength and empathy. When Simon beats himself up for causing the death of a few of his buddies, it's Trish who recognizes the importance of preserving his confidence for the long night ahead. She takes the lead. It's not even a question that the others follow. Lasso is about a rodeo run by cannibal cowboys and how one night a tour bus full of yokels makes the bad mistake of staying past closing time. There's a connection drawn between the cruelty with which rodeo animals are treated and the torture our victims endure, from hog-tying to branding, electric prodding to the titular lassoing. The band is divided in two: the one led by Trish, once one-armed hero Ennis (Sean Patrick Flanery) gets calved off; the other by plucky Kit (Lindsey Morgan), who tries to get a few of the older folks to safety in their broken-down bus. Lasso is also about modes of masculinity and how it's possible to be macho and disabled--and transgender, and young. Old, too. The traditional he-man cowboy archetype is the one indicted here and I'd argue that there's more to the moment where Ennis crawls through a killing field without the use of either of his arms than just a feat of endurance. He tells Simon later that it isn't what you're born with, it's what you make of it, and it's corny, sure, but there's something laudable about it showing up in exactly this movie. Lasso reminds in some ways of the gay slasher Hellbent, sharing with it an unusual social awareness while also being a credible entry in the genre. It runs a little long at 97 minutes, but there are enough smart moments to deserve a careful consideration. This is director Evan Cecil's feature debut. Respect.