Chad Ferrin’s ‘Parasites’ – I’m almost lost for words other than to say that it’s been a while since a film blind-sided me as much as this. With a synopsis barely 100 words long this film no talk, all trousers and quite frankly a ‘gut punch’ to my soft eyes which have recently become somewhat accustomed to by-the-numbers horror movies.
You know what? This movie delivers that magic which all horror fans lust after. A nostalgic throwback to the films we love, whilst maintaining a fresh progressive edge; ‘Parasites’ is that and more. With one hand, it led me gently down memory lane straight through John Carpenter’s early career, straying occasionally into early exploitation films ala John Boorman. With the other hand, it bitch-slapped me back to modern times to remind me to stop comparing and get fucking watching.
The plot is simple – its execution complex. 3 college students stray into SkidRow in down town LA. Their car, disabled by a homemade stinger strip is swiftly descended on by a pack of homicidal homeless bums. Two of the students are executed then and there, however, one named Marshall (Sean Samuels), a line backer, escapes. What follows is an 80-minute life threatening pursuit as he is hunted by the baying horde. Each corner Marshall turns he encounters social cancer of every-kind from prostitutes, to addicts, and even a mental patient left on the street due to a lack of medical insurance – but there is a never a distinguishing line of who is good and who is bad - save for lead bum, an egomaniac by the name ‘Wilco’ (Robert Miano) shows malice and contempt for everything and everyone (including sacrificing those desperate enough to trust him). There is a message in ‘Parasites’ that is almost as gritty and as hard hitting as the acts of violence scattered throughout, but it is never preached, it just shows you - and boy does it show you.
The cinematography is notable for its ‘Carpenter-esk style’ and oozes grime and grit in every frame. The lighting used in the film is sparse, and the run-down wasteland of homeless-ville USA seems even more ominous for it as the shadows seem to contain nothing but further menace as the people living there must fend for themselves scuttling around in the dark, scavenging to get by like rats. The boarded-up houses around every turn reflect the hopeless monotony of Marshall’s plight, whilst the soft glow of light on the horizon a teasing reminder of the world he knows running parallel for one he simply doesn’t understand. All of this accompanied by a stripped-down grinding synthesiser score.
Overall, I am simply going to do you the service of ending my review here. To reveal any further details would deny the film the opportunity to make the impact it deserves. If you are a fan of late 70s, early 80s exploitation movies (US, not the sleazy Italian ones) and/or have a love for John Carpenters earlier works which stray into the subject (most noticeably ‘Assault on Precinct 13) then this is a film you absolutely must see. It is gritty, hard hitting from the start, and delivers a social commentary which is both hard to ignore and tough to face.
‘Parasites’ will be available to rent or own in the US and Canada starting January 24th on iTunes, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu and Xbox from 108 Media.