Some films lend themselves to the constraints of indie films with their lower budgets, slower pace and generally more claustrophobic sensibility. You can’t create Transformers or Inception on a shoestring. Fortunately, LFO is one of the indie films where it all really works perfectly, offering up a dark, twisted and wry sci-fi parable for our times.
LFO tells the story of Robert (Patrik Karlson), a reclusive and troubled sound engineer who creates a hypnotic sound wave that instantly puts people into a passive, hyper-suggestive state when heard. But Robert is a twisted and bitter guy who has “sound allergies” to certain kinds of music — at one point he destroys their stereo because his wife Clara (Ahnna Rasch) is listening to meditative yoga music — and his thoughts turn immediately to manipulation when he realizes what he’s invented.
The primary victims are his guileless neighbors Linn (Izabelle Jo Tschig) and Simon (Per Lofberg) who are programmed in increasingly bizarre, and often amusing, ways. Unsurprisingly, Robert begins by convincing Linn that she is desperate to have sex with him, just to be surprised when she then says just that and they end up in the bedroom, naked.
The entire film takes place within Robert’s home, mostly in the kitchen where he’s set up a sound board, hidden speakers and perpetually has industrial headphones around his neck so he can play that darn hypnotic sound and program other people without it affecting him. And that works really well for the film, particularly as the kitchen becomes messier and then cleaner as his unexpected bachelor life excludes cleaning until he realizes that Linn and Simon can clean everything.
There’s both a certain cynicism that makes the film a bit of an adolescent guilty pleasure and a sense of the inevitable that, yes, if given the chance, a nerdy recluse would indeed be quick to create situations where his lovely neighbor would want to come over for some sex, even if she’s nothing more than a passive instrument for his desires.
The film ends in an increasingly fantastical manner that was a bit unsatisfying as I kept expecting some sort of karmic comeuppance or other resolution that was more morally satisfying, but perhaps that’s the greater point of this surprising, occasionally amusing and entertaining 94 minute low-budget sci-fi film, that we humans are small, manipulative people and that even when we try to do something noble, we have to fight our own baser instincts.