Written and directed by Tim Martin
Tim Martin is special effect wiz whose work has been seen in such films as Hellboy, Alien vs. Predator, and the premake of The Thing. The man definitely knows his stuff because his writing-directing debut Parasitic looks like it was made for next to nothing yet boasts better practical special effects and make-up work than many movies with considerably higher budgets. A pity those icky, slimy, wormy monster effects are the only redeeming thing the movie has going for it. It’s quite sad how polished the practical effects are and how amateurish everything else is.
The movie opens with something from outer space plopping into the ocean. Whatever it was has infected some fish; sushi made from this fish is eaten by Val, the surly manager of an underground Goth nightclub. Shutting down for the evening (morning?), indigestion sends her rushing to the potty. Her stomach pains are such she cannot help but rip her top off.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had that happen to me. One moment I’m rushing to the bathroom with stomach cramps and the next I’m tearing my shirt off like Hulk Hogan.
One thing Parasitic has plenty of is T&A. Not necessarily the T&A you’re thinking of – there is a good deal of tits & ass, I can assure you. The T&A I’m talking about describes the two categories all of the characters fall into. Every single one of them is either a twit or an asshole. Some are too stupid to live; others are so unpleasant they couldn’t die quick enough for my money.
The proprietor of this bar has a policy that requires the doors remain locked from the inside until the shift is up, and the on-duty manager (Val) has the only key. Forget alien parasites; imagine if the fire department found out about this highly illegal practice. Potential fire hazard aside, those still stuck inside are about to have a bigger problem because Val has begun sprouting wormy appendages as she transforms into an alien infected zombie.
The lengths to which the film goes to explain why the others cannot get out of this nightclub strains credibility far more than the notion alien worms are turning them into zombies.
For far too long most of them don’t even try to get out. Many of them just sit around talking about they want to go home, can’t understand why Val is taking so long in the bathroom, but prefer to just stand around talking amongst themselves about what’s taking her so long or discussing matters that sound like refried Clerks crap than going to knock on the door and ask what the problem is. It kind of goes a little something like this:
“Isn’t it strange that so-and-so with the only key out of this place hasn’t been seen since she went to the bathroom? Hey, why don’t you go wander off by yourself to find her while the rest of us continue to sit here and jibber-jabber about nothing of importance?”
10 minutes later…
“So-and-so with the key is still missing and now so-and-so who went looking for her also hasn’t come back. Hey, why don’t you two go look for them while the rest of us continue to sit her jibber-jabbering about nothing of importance?”
10 minutes later…
“So-and-so with the key still hasn’t turned up and the first person that went looking for her still hasn’t come back. I bet those last two are off having sex. I really want to go home. Think we should continue sitting her jibber-jabbering about nothing of importance or go look for them ourselves?”
In fairness, this isn’t entirely accurate to how a good portion of the film plays out but it damn sure felt like it to me. Nearly every scene feels stretched out beyond reason. Val’s initial transformation goes on forever. Conversations as poorly delivered as they are poorly written go on forever. This nightclub isn’t even that big; yet, the way so many can’t be bothered to be proactive for so much of the movie, how they keep branching off and creeping about the place and somehow never hearing the screams of others, you’d think they were all trapped in some sprawling mansion.
Parasitic might have made a passable short film of about 10-20 minutes in length, but as a 78-minute feature length motion picture it feels like it has at least an hour of padding. Not even Martin’s effects work could save his film from being an absolute chore to sit through.
1 out of 5
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual
Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.
Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!
Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!
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The Housemaid Review – Love Makes the Ghost Grow Stronger
Written and directed by Derek Nguyen
Vietnamese horror films are something of a rarity due largely to pressure from the country’s law enforcement agencies that have warned filmmakers to steer clear of the genre in recent years. The country’s exposure to the industry is limited, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of filmmakers out there that are passionate and determined to get their art out into the world. IFC Midnight has stepped up to the plate to shepherd writer/director Derek Nguyen’s period ghost thriller The Housemaid in hopes of getting it in front of American horror fans.
Aside from a few moments that delve into soap opera territory, Nguyen’s film is full of well-crafted scares and some surprisingly memorable scenes that sneak up at just the right times. For history buffs there’s also a lot of material to sink your teeth into dealing with French Colonial rule and mistreatment of the Vietnamese during the 1950’s. Abuse that, if you’re not careful, could lead to a vengeful spirit seeking atonement.
Desperate and exhausted after walking for miles, an orphaned woman named Linh (Kate) seeks refuge and employment as a housemaid at a large rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina. Once hired, she learns of the dark history surrounding the property and how her mere presence has awakened an accursed spirit that wanders the surrounding woods and dark corners of the estate. Injured in battle, French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud) returns to preside over the manor and, unexpectedly, begins a dangerous love affair with Linh that stirs up an even darker evil.
Told in flashbacks, the abuse of workers reveals a long history of mistreatment that enshrouds the surrounding land in darkness and despair, providing ripe ground for a sinister spirit that continues to grow stronger. Once it’s revealed that the ghost has a long history with Laurent before her death, the reasons she begins to kill become more and more obvious as the death toll piles up. Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle among Laurent, Linh, and the specter of Laurent’s dead wife.
Powered by desire to avenge tortured workers of the past and the anger fueled by seeing her husband in the embrace of a peasant girl, the apparition is frightening and eerily beautiful as she stalks her victims. One scene in particular showing her wielding an axe is the most indelible image to take away from the film, and other moments like it are what make The Housemaid a standout. The twisted sense of romance found in a suffering spirit scorned in death is the heart of the story even if the romance between the two living lovers winds up having more screen time.
The melodrama and underwhelming love scenes between Linh and Laurent are the least effective part of The Housemaid, revealing some of Nguyen’s limitations in providing dialogue and character moments that make us connect with these two characters as much as we do when the ghost is lurking around the frame. What does help to save the story is a well kept secret revealing a connection with the housemaid and the apparition.
Honestly, if this was an American genre film, the limitations seen in The Housemaid might cause more criticism, but seeing an emerging artist and his team out of Vietnam turn out a solid product like this leads me to highlight the good and champion the effort in hopes of encouraging more filmmakers to carry the flag. Ironically, the film is set for a U.S. remake in the near future.
The Housemaid hits select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms TODAY, February 16th.
Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle.
Scorched Earth Review – Gina Carano Making Motherf**kers Pay In The Apocalypse
Starring Gina Carano, John Hannah, Ryan Robbins
Written by Bobby Mort and Kevin Leeson
Directed by Peter Howitt
Let me preface this review by stating right off the bat that I’m a huge Gina Carano fan, and will pretty much accept her in any role that she’s put in (are you going to tell her no), regardless of the structure and plausibility behind it, and while that might make me a tad-bit biased in my opinions, just accept it as that and nothing more. Now that I’ve professed my cinematic devotion to the woman, let’s dive headlong into her latest film, Scorched Earth.
Directed by Peter Howitt, the backdrop is an apocalyptic world brought on by the imminent disaster known as global warming, and the air has become toxic to intake, generally leaving inhabitants yacking up blood and other viscous liquids after a prolonged exposure, unless you’re one of the privileged that possesses a filter lined with powdered silver. Filters of water and the precious metal are in high demand, and only true offenders in this world still drive automobiles, effectively speeding up the destruction of what’s left of the planet. Carano plays Atticus Gage, a seriously stoic and tough-as-nails bounty hunter who is responsible for taking these “criminals” down, and her travels lead her to a compound jam-packed with bounties that will have her collecting riches until the end of time…but aren’t we at the end of time already? Anyway, Gage’s main opponent here is a man by the name of Thomas Jackson (Robbins) – acting as the leader of sorts to these futuristic baddies, the situation of Gage just stepping in and taking him out becomes a bit complicated when…oh, I’m not going to pork this one up for you all – you’ve got to invest the time into it just as I did, and trust me when I tell you that the film is pretty entertaining to peep.
While Carano’s acting still needs some refining, let there be no ever-loving mistake that this woman knows how to beat the shit out of people, and for all intents and purposes this will be the thing that carries her through many a picture. There are much larger roles in the future for Gina, and she’ll more than likely take over as a very big player in the industry – hey, I’m a gambling man, and I’ve done pretty well with my powers of prognostication. With that being said, the thing that does hold this picture back is the plot itself- it’s a bit stale and not overly showy, and when I look for a villain to oppose the hero, I’m wanting someone with at least a shred of a magnetic iota, and I just couldn’t latch onto anything with Robbins’ performance – his character desperately needed an injection of “bad-assness” and it hurt in that particular instance.
In the end of it all, I’d recommend Scorched Earth to fans of directionless, slam-bang wasteland pics with a touch of unrestrained violence…plus, Gina Carano is in it, so you can’t go wrong. If you’re not a fan of any of the above, feel free to skate on along to another piece of barren territory.
Looking to get your butt kicked in the apocalypse with extreme prejudice? Drive on up, and allow me to introduce you to someone who’ll be more than happy to oblige.
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