What do you get when you mix a number of Canadian comedians, an original soundtrack of Canadian metal bands (with the exception of one covering Rush’s Anthem) and the LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) subculture?
Lloyd the Conqueror, that’s what. The fact that this film was co-presented by such groups as the Nerd Mafia, Snakes & Lattes, The First Weekend Club, Cinema Canadiana, and Film Army tells you that it's genre, but not horror. It's a low budget, big laughs feature with spells and a broadsword.
In an epic war between Derek the Unholy (an un-bespeckled Mike Smith and 180 degrees from his Trailer Park Bubbles character) and Andy the White Wizard (played by Brian Posehn of the Sara Silverman show), three community college students become pawns. In order to redeem their failing grade in medieval literature, and thereby keep their funding, they enter a Faustian bargain with their professor Derek to enter the local LARP-ing league for extra credit and maybe even the holy grail of an A+. Derek's motivations are clear and not pedagogically inclined. And so the stakes are set.
The fact that the project Lloyd, Patrick, and Oswald failed was Beowulf is a minor link to After, which played later on Sunday and also referenced the epic poem. It's fun to see English majors throwing what they know into scripts.
After their first battle, they are advised to add a more physical aspect to their attack, paving the way for Lloyd to ask his crush, self defense teacher Cassandra (played by Tegan Moss), to join the league. There are several battles, with some victories and some defeats, which build towards the epic tournament where Derek 'riding' a centaur faces Lloyd, who is bestride a unicorn on the field of battle. (Comedian Darcy Tucker, credited as Unicorn, was one of two people to sustain an injury during the final show down.)
In the Q&A after the film, there was a question about working with real LARPers. First time feature director Michael Peterson admitted that the “Bad Ass looking guys brought their own” costumes, while the ones the production made were “a little more DYI”.
When asked about his experience on this Canadian indie feature, Brian Posehn discussed how he loved playing the mentor, a more substantial role than his usual funny line cameos. The topic of ad-libbing came up, but he said that he respected the scripted voice of Andy too much, although he was able to toss in one or two line. Posehn talked about how he and Mike Smith really hit it off. However, since Trailer Park Boys had only just started playing in the States, he really didn’t grasp who he was working with. It wasn’t until the two of them attended a hockey game, when Polsehn witnessed many people called out “Bubbles,” that he turned to Smith and said, “So, you’re kind of a big deal up here.” Unfortunately, Mike Smith wasn’t able to make the Q&A because I would have loved to have seen where he personally fell in the continuum between his Bubbles character and the evil plotting character in this film.
There’s a romance, the fumblings of a young leader, being haunted by mistakes from your past, and an interesting hand- on self–defense field trip. Lloyd might not surprise, but it will make you chuckle and cheer and just might conquer your heart.
Lloyd the Conqueror was featured on October 21, 2012 at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.