Limbo Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Uncork'd Entertainment

limbo poster main

Written and directed by Mark Young
2019, 90 minutes, Not Rated
Released on August 7th, 2020

Lew Temple as Jimmy
Lucian Charles Collier as Balthazar
Scottie Thompson as Cassiel
Peter Jacobson as Belial
Richard Riehle as Phil
James Purefoy as Lucifer
Veronica Cartwright as Louise
Chad Lindberg as Frank the Pimp
Lauryn Canny as Angela

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Judgment in the plane of Limbo is hardly a new concept, but if you’re going to step into the courtroom presented in Limbo, you must know that the accounting of this particular life isn’t going to play by any of the rules preordained for this type of final trial. That’s pretty clear from the opening frames of Limbo, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more satisfying last act transition into something you didn’t expect while holding true to the structure for this type of flick.

Jimmy (Lew Temple; The Walking Dead, The Devil’s Rejects) is not a nice guy. He’s an armed robber and occasionally violent criminal who really doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anyone except himself. He finds himself in a banal and gloomy interrogation room; it’s a holding cell of sorts where Jimmy must deal with a lawyer from Hell named Balthazar (Lucian Charles Collier; Lords of Chaos). He was shot in the back after a robbery gone horribly wrong. He now faces trial for the murders and various sins of his life. Soon, his hide is saved by a lawyer from Heaven, an angel named Cassiel (Scottie Thompson; 12 Monkeys). She’s appointed to save his soul (under what is essentially a loophole), but the joke may be on her, as it’s her first case! She can’t win, especially against a heavyweight like Balthazar…or can she? Jimmy’s story isn’t as simple as it appears, and he’s been through some horror himself. Then Lucifer (James Purefoy; The Following) shows up. Why does he care what happens to this one little soul?

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Contrasts and opposites are the name of the game in Limbo, a movie told in two distinct styles. The judgment room scenes are a convergence of solid ensemble talent in an almost stage play-like set. There’s a balance between Jimmy, Balthazar, Cassiel, and Phil that strengthens throughout, while appearances are made by expositional witnesses from the life of Jimmy. Richard Riehle is never bad, quite frankly, but he’s exceptional here – an upbeat demon that’s just trying to brighten the proceedings. He provides the gel for the collection of legit talent.

Jimmy’s life scenes, by comparison, are the meat and potatoes of the movie thanks to a performance from Lew Temple that should go at the top of his resume. He manages the trick of reaching for it just enough without overselling it, giving a few different looks and using them to full effect. The relationship with his hooker neighbor, Angela (Lauryn Canny; Darlin’), is wonderful foreshadowing. Angela’s boyfriend, Frank the Pimp (Chad Lindberg; Supernatural), sweats sleazy menace from the first moment you see him. For that matter, the general feeling of sleaze in Jimmy’s life overall in these scenes is thick enough to wipe off the camera lens.

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The courtroom scenes are where it’s at for banter, and this is the place where I was reminded strongly of the vibe of Kevin Smith’s religious masterpiece, Dogma, in many ways. The back-and-forth between Balthazar and Cassiel drives scene after scene, providing a setup for a finish that is definitively a Kevin Smith-inspired touch at heart. Without that finish, Limbo is a good-looking philosophical fantasy-horror movie that straddles different genres; with that finish, Limbo shows that it not only had something to say but was paying attention all along. Well done.

This is one of those times where I will easily throw a cliché at you because it works, but Limbo is a great example of when indie filmmaking is an almost magical blend of premise, execution, talent, and a rallying cry of sorts. I hope plenty of people see it. It’s not a movie that’s selling a belief, but it’s damn sure selling an idea.

That’s why it works.

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Movie: 4.5 Star Rating Cover

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Stuart D. Monroe
Staff Reviewer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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