PARASITES might have the best (and simplest) premise of any film this year: three college students find themselves lost and stranded on Skid Row when they get a flat tire and are captured by an angry homeless gang that don’t take too kindly to strangers. Matters escalate and Marshal (Sean Samuels), a USC freshman, finds himself on the run in an asphalt jungle populated by bums, prostitutes, gang members, pranksters, juvenile delinquents, and cops. Robert Miano revels in his role as Wilco, who acts as the gang’s leader, father figure, and resident lunatic. As the night drags on, Marshal and the gang delve into murkier waters, where survival comes before trust and loyalty.
Director Chad Ferrin was inspired by the true story of John Colter’s capture and escape from a ferocious Blackfeet tribe in 1809. The modern twist updates the landscape and characters in unique and compelling ways that tackle crucial issues such as racism and colonization, without giving into overt political persuasion and dull monologues. Instead, it relies on shovel kills and characters named after which household item they carry as a weapon (Rake, Hammer, Spade, Wrench). Ferrin moves away from the horror genre (EASTER BUNNY, KILL! KILL!, THE GHOULS) and utilizes components of the Western and ’80s action films while still retaining the tension of his previous films. Rich in visceral, low-budget grittiness, PARASITES pays homage to the gang warfare of THE WARRIORS, the pulsing electronic scores of John Carpenter, and the social commentary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and at the same time reshapes these distinct components into something that is fresh, exciting and fun.
— Devin Mendenhall