Parasite poster

Parasite was the first film made by Fearnort Production, an offshoot of game company Rebellion, and to be perfectly honest it shows it’s origins. As with most computer games, it has something adolescent about it, not to mention a plot cobbled together from numerous, better, pulp movies, namely Alien, Deep Rising and The Abyss. In fact, it’s almost identical to a little seen 1995 British movie Proteus, directed by Bob Keen, and with all the running around in the dark that takes place, it also feels a little like Norman Warren’s 1981 cult favourite Inseminoid.

The plot finds a disparate group of people, including a bunch of eco-activists and some industrial cleaners, stranded on a decomissioned oil-rig that’s about to be sunk. In order to reduce the negative environmental consequences, there’s also a representative from the oil company, Dr Christine Hansen (Saskia Gould), who’s there to supervise the use of a new, experimental enzyme, which can supposedly clean up all kinds of pollutants. Inevitably, it all goes wrong, and instead a bunch of rapidly growing worm-like creatures are unleashed, which have a taste for human flesh and a talent for reproduction.

Made on an obviously low budget, this doesn’t really have a great deal to add to the genre-mix. There’s the usual group of disparate characters being picked off one by one, a little bit of conspiracy theory, a dash of sex and a dollop of gore. Possibly the only really original aspect is the whole green connection, and even this is really just a starting point from which all the normal creature-feature shenanigans can take place. There’s also a really rather stupid prologue / epilogue – in which the blame for the whole mess is placed firmly on the shoulders of an unscrupulous, corporate bigwig – which smacks of time wasting.

Saskia Gould in ParasiteFurthermore, it really suffers badly from the excessive use of CGI, unsurprisingly, perhaps, given its origins. CGI is an effective tool in some circumstances, but when used for these kinds of creature effects it can be seriously overused and lacks a certain weight; the worms don’t feel real, somehow, they’re just a bit too like something from a video game, and you feel you should be able to grab your joystick and simply blast away at them.

In its favour, there is some attempt at characterisation and it passes along easily enough. The performances are rather variable, though, and it’s not entirely surprising that none of the cast have gone on to make much of a name for themselves. Gary Condes and G.W. Stevens, as the laidback Nils and twitchy Jacob, come off the best, not least because their characters are actually quite well developed. Jacob, in particular, is a rare example of a character who, when confronted with a horrific situation, does what most of us would do: panic, run away and look after himself! Unfortunately, both of them become less prominent as the running time progresses and the plot centres on Saskia Gould instead. Now I know nothing at all about Ms Gould, but I can safely say that she’s goddarned awful in this, and it’s not helped by the fact that she has a voice that runs the full gamut of emotion from bored to, well, bored.

Director Andrew Prendergast has recently made a new TV movie in the States, Hybrid, and good luck to him. In the main this isn’t too bad, especially given it’s limitations, but it just falls flat when compared to the likes of Isolation, which managed to do something similar with a great deal more panache.

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