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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Parasite (1997) Horror Psychic

The Parasite (1997)  This small independent film has been sitting the Soresport collections for years and it was intended to be reviewed back to back with the Parasite (1982) was reviewed but we never got to it. So here is the deal with this film, it appears to be the story of how a psychic using her strong will can project that will into others making them do as she wishes. Not everyone find this amusing particularly the people she controls so the story is one of first showing that the power is real to the audience and to the characters surrounding the psychic; then showing how powerful that control can be through the plight of the victims. Finally we watch as those affected by this power fight back to try to regain control of their lives.
  The opening is after the first victim has had enough but before our main character and second victim is enthralled. We see victim 1, Charles Sadler (David W. Akin) as he attempts to write a suicide note. We see the struggle he is having internally as his hand quivers and stops writing. We don't know what his struggle is about yet so we only see him as emotionally unstable. When he reaches for a knife and slams it through his hand we begin to believe that control of that hand was lost and his pain brings it back under his control. In a low budget film like this there are some tricks that work to avoid costly special effects while giving the impression of them. In this early scene we see Charles raise the knife poised over his disagreeable hand. Cut to the grunt and the knife blade jutting out from the bottom of the table. Then to complete the illusion his bloody hand sitting on a pool of blood on the note.
  The promise of this opening is followed with the more mundane but necessary establishing of the main character and plot. We are introduced to Professor Richard Austin (David Gaffney), scenes of establishing him as a good professor with a promising research career ay the college, a loving fiancee to the beautiful Audrey (Marissa Hall). We meet his coworker  Professor John Wilson (Robert Taminga) who is a paranormal researcher because at one time frauds could actually get jobs researching the make believe. He introduces Richard to our antagonist Helena Voyich (Julia Matias) a psychic who is pushing the notion that through her strong will she can remotely control others. We are allowed to see her establish her powers on Audrey, using her powers of suggestion to have the young woman temporarily break off her engagement to Richard. Convinced Richard and Wilson embark on immediate experiments to prove the powers Voyich has expressed can be measured and documented. Richard so impressed agrees to be the subject of the experiments.
 Soon though he is getting warning from Charles while through a sequence we see cracks forming in his life. He is being controlled by the the psychic at the expense of his relationship, job performance and his own research. This section of the film takes too long with everything that was set up in the character building in the first third of the film being meticulously pulled apart in this third of the movie. Richard misses appointments, fails to file for his grants in time, begins to have dreams about his fiance that alienate him. Maybe this would have worked better if the acting was not so unconvincing. For many of the actors this was their only film credit and the less than stellar performances make the film less believable.
  Eventually we get to the discovery and climax third of the the film. Richard realizes that he is not only the subject of Wilson's research but that Voyich has put some controls on his that he find very unacceptable. This structurally works as the casting of the attractive Marissa Hall as Audrey nicely contrasts the plain looks of Matias as Voyich. Add to it the pernounce physical impairment of the psychic and the nature of the controls with the emotional confessions of Voyich and there is a real reason for the climax. This climax leads to a twist realization in the end of the film but unfortunately the second act drags a bit too much before you get to the more exciting third act. That with the unimpressive acting and it really pulls this film away from a recommendation here at Soresport Movies.
  There was one thing that stands out to ask the writer about the script. Considering the name of the film, Parasite and a couple visually queues I wondered if this film was originally meant to be more than just a film about an unstable psychic getting her way with men. Early at the party where she is introduced she is holding a strange box of some kind. Is there a physical parasite in that box? Then when Audrey is being mesmerized Yoyich puts her fingers near Audrey's ear and there seems to be a slight blue glow. Is this the introduction of an actual parasite. One has to wonder if the original story was more about some alien organism and was later rewritten. Attempting to find an email for the writer was challenging eventually Writer Patrick Roddy was found at his LinkedIn account (at least I think it was his). It will be an odd connection request where he is asked about his first film. Either way the film works for what it is, whether you take the psychic as a literal parasite using her powers to suck physical relationships from her male victims or is there had been some sort of alien parasite in the script at one time. Either way the plain acting and mundane script do not quite give the audience enough to want to see this again. So no recommendation on this film but still it gave me something to think and write about.


  1. The movie is a modern adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle's short story "The Parasite" in which the plot is quite similar.