Marshal (Sean Samuels) and his buddies are new to Los Angeles. About to start college, they still have their entire lives ahead of them. However, after a wrong turn leads them down the wrong road, the trio find themselves lost amongst the labyrinthine network of Los Angeles’ seedy underbelly. Sadly for them they are stereotypical men; they won’t stop and ask anyone for directions. This stubbornness leads to them moving deep into the world of the homeless and right into the territory of Wilco (Robert Miano). Wilco is the head of a community of down-on-their-luck street people and he has a vicious streak. After witnessing the death of his best friends Marshal is left naked and alone. If he wants to survive the night he must escape the clutches of Wilco’s gang.
Director Chad Ferrin‘s last journey behind the lens was for Someone’s Knocking on the Door which was a throw back to the grind-house era of film-making, and is all kinds of bonkers. Parasites dials back the zany and offers a more serious and grounded story. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have it’s share of mad moments or crazy characters, it has them in spades, but they’re handled in a more mature manner.
The opening moments in which the trio become lost really ramp up the tension. Anyone who has ever found themselves suddenly lost in the rough part of town at an ungodly hour with know exactly how the characters feel. It plays perfectly on both our fear of strangers and the dark.
What follows is a long game of cat and mouse; the film, for the most part being one long chase sequence. It’s a very violent chase though. Marshal isn’t afraid to fight back whilst in flight mode. Wilco dispatches his team one by one (as is always the case) to take down the young man, and one by one they fail. It seems that Marshal isn’t quite the timid victim they were counting on. During his journey he takes on dogs, knives, chains an finds the perfect weapon in a thin pole of metal. The fights are aggressive and to the death, with plenty of the red stuff flying.
The pace starts to lag ever so slightly towards the end and there might be one too many characters. Parasites has one kicker of an ending and suddenly a strong statement to convey. It’ll be seen as a controversial plot point to many, but into today’s sociopolitical climate (especially in LA), it’s important.
An ever so slightly more reserved follow-up to SKOTD, Parasites is an enjoyable ferocious fable. Mad Max: Fury Road on legs with a horror skew, Parasites offers a powerful message and plenty to entertain.
Parasites screens as part of 2016’s Fantasia International Film Festival programme.
Find all our of Fantasia 2016 coverage here.