JULY 5, 2012
If anyone in the world would find it interesting besides me, I’d compile all of the strange things I’ve seen in opening credits sequences in films that almost always turned out to be pretty terrible. Obviously I bring this up now because Parasitic would be on the list, thanks to the bizarre positioning of the music credit, halfway between the actor’s names. Can you imagine if you were watching Jurassic Park and it was like “Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Music By John Williams, Richard Attenborough, Samuel L Jackson…”? Of course not, you don’t DO that. Well, Parasitic did, for whatever reason.
At least one of the band’s names (Strangely Attractive) is spelled right during this odd intrusion, unlike the end credits when it’s switched to “Strangley”. You’d think that if they were held in such high regard that the director felt the need to interrupt his cast roll to give them a shoutout that they would double check how to spell their name, but by the time the end credits finish any sane person would be far too busy considering all of the movie's other problems to think much of it at all.
Oddly, the main person to blame is also responsible for the best thing about the movie. Tim Martin is an FX guy who has worked on a ton of big movies, and his work here is terrific. The practical alien FX are quite impressive, as is their design and application – I particularly liked the snake thing protruding from a girl’s neck (think a chestburster, but further up), and the final appearance – a giant insect type monster – is cool enough to make me almost hope that there’s a sequel, just to see it in action instead of just popping up in the film’s final 30 seconds.
Unfortunately Mr. Martin is seemingly incapable of doing anything else right (he serves as producer, writer, director, and editor), churning out a lethargic, laughable script that is equaled by the low production value (the graphics on the special news report broadcast are so bad, they might as well have just drawn them on the camera lens - you can see them in the trailer below if you don't believe me) and slack pace – a more seasoned editor would probably have turned in a rough cut that ran 12 or 13 minutes tops. Obviously this was a low budget production, so I can forgive any lapses to an extent (and as always, laud them for making/releasing the thing), but a good story/script is free, and that's what the movie so desperately lacks.
Taking a page from Madman, the entire film is a moebius strip of scenes in which a character goes off to see what happened to the previous character who went off to see what happened to the previous character… you get the idea. But at least Madman had the woods and a big cabin to play with – this entire movie takes place in a tiny nightclub after hours. The music is off, and there are only about 7 or 8 people there, so how someone could go off, meet up with an alien monster, and then scream/fight/die without anyone else hearing it is beyond me. Worse, the characters never find this chain of disappearances all too troubling, so there’s no energy at all to the proceedings. Perhaps if it was played for laughs it might work – folks that are so lazy/burned out that they can’t even bring themselves to care about imminent danger, but save for a few character driven put-downs and such, nothing in the movie is played for intentional humor.
However, it’s quite funny, thanks to the idiotic plotting (they’re all stuck in this nightclub because the shift manager has the only key – it remains locked from the outside even during business hours, apparently?) and woeful “acting”, with most of the thespians delivering some of the worst performances I’ve seen in quite some time. Special mention must be made for the girl playing Amber, however – I have seen bad kung fu dubs where the voiceover guy was trying to match the original actor’s lip movements that sounded more natural than even the simplest line from this girl, presumably in her native tongue! I’m talking The Room level awkward delivery here, and I have to admit that the film was even more of an endurance test after she died, because at least she provided some truly memorable awfulness – once she’s gone it’s merely a terrible movie, enhanced only by its creature FX, which only make fleeting appearances.
The padding on this movie is also insulting; I actually should laud them for providing fairly quick end credits (to be fair, the movie didn’t seem to have much of a crew beyond Martin and DP William Barratt), instead of dragging those out interminably to get the film longer than its final 78 minutes. The epilogue is particularly grating; what should be a two minute scene of a new character showing up, seeing signs of chaos, and then encountering the thought-dead monster runs for like 8 minutes, to the extent that if I didn’t have the “time remaining” counter as proof (believe me, I checked it often) I’d consider the possibility that this was actually the beginning of the film’s second half. Nope, just another example of how inept this thing is.
The disc has a trailer, which debuted almost two years ago and was met with some excitement thanks to the cool creature FX it showcases. If the movie was 80 minutes of monster action (or even a documentary about creating them) it might have been worth the wait. I’ll give the dude credit for sticking with practical and making a (by definition) feature film almost by himself, but all it does is reinforce the fact that the more jobs you do on a shoot, the less likely it is you’ll do them as well as you might when just doing one.
What say you?