We covered the upcoming release of Chad Ferrin's Parasites not long ago, and in it, described the preview material as looking like a cross between the thematic elements of Hobo With a Shotgun and the grungy aesthetics of Escape from New York. After having had the opportunity to finally view the film, it's safe to say that the initial supposition was dead on, but there's also much more to the film layered underneath than meets the eye.
On the surface however, Parasites is a thriller with horror elements. The thrills, coming by way of the exhaustive chase between the vengeful transients and the only survivor of a trespassing trio of adventure-seeking college students. The first part of that formula plays similarly to the revenge aspect of Jason Eisener's Hobo with a Shotgun (and even touches a bit on how the dehumanization of the homeless, leads to the violent vengeful acts themselves), but imagine that instead of Rutger Hauer going at it alone - and in this case, Robert Miano's intensely played "Wilco" - he's amassed a posse of like-minded vigilantes to help in exacting brutal justice. Unfortunately for would-be-victim Marshal Colter (Sean Samuels), escaping through the streets of skid-row won't be easy, as the locale itself comes with its own set of dangers and obstacles that make surviving the night a tooth-and-nail ordeal; and it is in this aspect that parallels to John Carpenter's Escape from New York can be drawn. With Parasites, we get to watch a harrowing situation unfold in a place that visually, inspires almost no hope at all. Skid-row is dark, dreary, dirty, and painted with a mean spirit that serves to remind the viewer of a world that exists, but would by most, rather be forgotten.
I mentioned earlier that there's much more to Parasites than what trailers and synopsis would indicate, which brings us to what I feel is the deeper, double-meaning that's implied in the title of the film; to better understand this implication, let's first understand the very definition of the singular word 'Parasite'
an organism that lives in or on another organism (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the host's expense.
But this film uses the plural form of the word, and as such, refers to more than one person, group, or even entity, and depending on which side of privilege and status you fall on, can easily refer to any of the players in the film. As a member of working class society for instance, that's privileged enough to legally own real-estate and a home with basic utilities, the transients may be seen as the parasites. As the displaced homeless, perhaps those that walk over, ignore, and use their place of occupation as a dumping ground for waste, perhaps they, are the resource-sucking section of humanity. Controversially, the framing of the black man as one - especially in the eyes of corrupt law enforcement. Not to give anything away, but there are decisions made by authorities in this film that embody the sentiments found in our current social climate and the disturbing politics associated with it - and as such - there is no country for black men, college educated or not.
Regardless your interpretation, it's clear that Chad Ferrin has in Parasites a film that delivers a powerfully poignant, yet relevant message, with multiple points of view audiences can both relate with and challenge themselves by. Or maybe, just maybe, all of them - parts of a larger troublesome whole - come together, forcing us to ask the hardest question of all.
Maybe its humanity then, we as a species, that the film's title ultimately refers to.