Plug all of your orifices.
Cult’s been infected with…
Directed and Written by Chad Ferrin
Release Date January/24/2017
Runtime 81 minutes
Crappy World Films, Girls and Corpses Magazine
I’ll mention, right from the get-go, that this isn’t, as the title suggests, a creature feature. I’ll also state for the record that this is the first feature I’ve seen in association with Girls and Corpses magazine, I would’ve thought Necromantik a better fit (for blindingly obvious reasons).
With that out ghastly visual of the way, I’ll continue. Parasites is a film that hits home harder than most based on its theme, content, honesty and depiction of life sans a filter tainted by Hollywood’s multi-million-dollar budget production values.
Admittedly, the first three minutes terrified me. The mere thought of getting lost in an unfamiliar city, at night, is enough to make me want to hide under my covers in a comforting fetal ball. Add to this an intrepid trio of College kids (diverse in both appearance and opinion) who try harder to locate friendly terrain only to fail miserably, to find themselves deeper in low rent neighborhoods, depicted here complete with ramshackle tent cities and a plethora of inebriated folk with no regard for their own safety or the flow of traffic.
Lost in frustration, passing the blame and all the excitement that comes with losing your way in a strange location the trio fall prey to a spiked two-by-four and a small collective of homeless folks. Wilco (portrayed by Robert Miano who among his impressive IMDB credits is listed as uncredited in the original Death Wish film) presents himself as their leader. He starts to rant on all manner of issues relating to feasting and the luxury of slumber inside of an empty refrigerator box but doesn’t take kindly to being interrupted and soon proves, as if there were ever any doubt, that a glass bottle to the face isn’t the best way to improve a dating profile. Following a sequence of violent scenes, reminiscent of the clash of attitudes in (1972’s) Deliverance minus ‘squeal like a pig’ dialogue the movie develops into a chase scenario through the city washes. The prey finds himself transforming, as he’s pursued, into whom he’s running from in appearance. Ironically, he also encounters those whom he’s accused of emulating with a plea for help. The streets offer little in the way of comfort offering instead predicament rife with underworld dealings. Unable to ignore a ‘damsel in distress’ the films protagonist is drawn further into the seediness of the city as the limits of his endurance, courage and character are tested to the limit.
The menacing city backdrop is brought to life through lingering shots depicting dimly lit alcoves, graffiti covered parking structures, high rise buildings within glancing distance of abundant derelict makeshift domiciles and the fantastic use of dancing shadows. A film school student could well argue that the back and forth light play signifies the two sides of the same coin in direct juxtaposition, the coin in this instance taking on the role of one’s life position, a predicament that could so easily flip on its head without warning, at any one given moment. The occasional ‘running towards the camera but never getting any closer to it’ effect brings an everyday perspective (rife with perseverance) to the viewer’s viewing experience pulling them closer to the action by keeping the objective ever so slightly out of reach. The action in scenes that boast conflict and violence is gritty, awkward and not fluid like one might expect to find in a similar Hollywood blockbuster. In this regard, they are executed in a top-notch manner, that fits the style of the film exceptionally, that doesn’t glorify violence but rather the desire to survive, at all costs, even at the sacrifice of another’s life.
Parasites boasts an excellent and highly effective synth score reminiscent of many of Carpenters genre masterworks especially The Warriors, even as far as down to a chase scene with the pursuer hooting and hollering while brandishing an improvised weapon. This same score adds depth, emotion and atmosphere. A well woven intricate tapestry, with one image, among many, that’s stands out, a ‘somethings-about-to-happen’ atmosphere that’s so utterly nail biting as it’s so easy to see oneself in the same situation, making the same choices to survive.
Parasite also explores mental illness through its characters, interaction between and dialogue throughout. In a shocking scene mid-way through a person, seemingly unable to help himself, is discarded apathetically raising awareness to a great many elements one wouldn’t normally ponder upon when witnessing a film in the same genre. A character trait that especially stands out, in this respect, is Wilco’s hypocrisy. He often comments on ‘Quarterback’ (Marshal Colter – played by Sean Samuels) and how he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with murder when he himself has slain, in cold blood, with no reason or cause. Wilko is also quick to point out others ‘flaws’ in order to make himself appear the most competent that he might continue his championing of a campaign to stand up for those who call the side walk home. “That punk and the city are trying to sweep us all under”. He rules through intimidation and fear with no regard for those around him for whose cause he professes to fight. Ironically this (same proclaimed) leader treats his companions as troops under his command, and is swift to dish out applicable punishment, when he himself didn’t serve in any military capacity. He dodged the draft (Vietnam) tells another in the same breath offering a warning to steer clear of him.
Raw, honest and stunning this is the type of movie that doesn’t require a Hollywood script or an accompanying multi-million-dollar budget as its relatable in its urban setting and only more terrifying in that respect, portraying experience that happens on an everyday basis in locales most wish to ignore the existence of complete with unfounded ignorance and bias that’s unfortunately also commonplace. Huge nods, be it by way of the synth score or unflinching rawness on screen, to some of the genre greats, mainly Carpenter and a handful of European Grindhouse/cult/Giallo cinematic examples from the last three decades also come to mind are highly effective making one yearn for rediscovery of titles lost to memory.
The direction is outstanding displaying the gritty vibe of the innermost workings of the City’s underbelly, the lives of those ensnared within its grasp and the range of emotions associated with. Applaudable character performances and intense portrayals by both Wilco and ‘Quarterback’ elevate the film to a level where it’s much easier to have strong feelings about both the protagonist plight and the antagonist (villain), in this case Wilco whose priorities/intentions though justified are tainted by experience, venom and ill will towards those responsible, but not those whom he’s choosing to lash out against.
The film’s final stanza is the icing on the cake, and though not wholly unpredictable remains a great touch to cement this viewing experience as one the viewer won’t soon forget.
All that’s left to say is that I give Parasites my ‘Highly Recommended’ stamp of approval as if my cunning praise throughout didn’t depict that feeling. Keep an eye out for this and the future works of Chad Ferrin, if this is any indication of what’s to follow then this guy’s name will be discussed a great deal in the future.
Worthy of note is an appearance by Joseph Pilato, playing Wilde, famous for his role as the insufferable Capt. Rhodes and in particular a gruesome scene, involving cow intestines and a horde of ravenous undead, that needs no introduction in George Romero’s (RIP) Day of the Dead.
I’d say you deserved that!