"Once passion has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin reaches maturity it begats death – James 1:15".
Thought-provoking words that open Chad Ferrin’s film.
The film centres on James (Roger Garcia), a middle-aged professional who doesn’t seem that happy with his lot to begin with. Things go from bad to decidedly shitty when he’s driving home from a social event one evening with his wife Alice (Tamera Noll) and daughter Heather (Leigh Silver).
Alice bickers at James, jibing him about his impotency while he struggles to concentrate on the road ahead in the driving rain. But a fight ensues and the car crashes … leaving Heather dead, and Alice crippled.
The next we see of James, he’s sat downhearted in his living room, unable to look at either the photographs of his precious Heather or the pathetic, shitting wreck that Alice has become in the wheelchair beside him. We don’t need an internal monologue to realise that this ostensibly religious guy (check out the crucifixes etc in his abode) has become incredibly bitter.
There’s an ambiguous naivety to James when he brings his first ‘guest’ home one evening, a skimpily dressed brunette who is in a rush to get his pants unzipped. Has he brought her home for sex, or is he on a mission to punish her for exhibiting the sexuality that he’s lost – in various ways? He certainly seems aroused to begin with, and exhibits guilt after the act of punishment.
Either way you read it, it ends in a bloody mess for the girl in question.
While Alice’s young male home-visit nurse makes improper sexual advances towards her helpless disfigured face, James gets more and more into his new self-imposed role of moral vigilante: killer of those he feels have transgressed the line between good and evil …
Okay, any film that has among its opening titles an actor called Wolf Dangler in the role of "Hell" has got my attention.
Beyond that, the first thing that struck me about Chad Ferrin’s 2000 feature-length debut was how impressive it looked and sounded. From the sped-up footage played beneath the rushing opening titles to the infernal view through a late-night tunnel drive, to simple daytime compositions that become striking thanks to the consideration put into shooting them: this is a film that wanted to be noticed, by a man with something people should be taking notice of.
True, all of that is somewhat undermined by Ferrin’s uneven script (some may say, clunky) and the odd bum performance. But we’re looking at a film that was shot on digital video for the paltry sum of $20,000.00 – limitations apply, and expectations should be kept in check as appropriate.
But this is imaginatively shot, acted with a great amount of commitment and admirably free from any overt sense of humour. It’s quite a macabre, perverse film actually – a horror film, in fact.
As it stands, I view this as an intriguing pot-boiler with some solid facets (the story had a hook that kept me watching; some of the FX were good, and gory; I liked the editing and score). It’s also a fascinating insight into the beginning of Ferrin’s career – he of course went on to make the likes EASTER BUNNY KILL KILL and SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT MY DOOR. It interests me to be able to go back and understand a promising filmmaker’s growth …
Acted with conviction and filmed with a clear eye toward the cinematic, even during the quite nasty gore sequences, this is the stuff of real potential. Thank God Ferrin is realising that potential.
UNSPEAKABLE is presented uncut on Cine Du Monde’s DVD. This anamorphic 1.85:1 presentation marks the film’s UK debut. It looks good, with reasonable sharpness and natural colour schemes throughout. There were instances of motion noise that were irksome, but these are few and far between.
English 2.0 audio is good throughout.
The disc opens to a spoilerific animated main menu page set to an out-of-tune staccato metal riff. From there, an animated scene-selection menu is slit across three pages and proffers access to the film via 12 chapters.
Extras begin with the film’s original 2-minute trailer. Presented in window-boxed format, this is slickly edited and has the added bonus of a great, cheesy American voiceover man doing his best to drown out the heavy beats beneath him.
Next we get a "thank you message" from Ferrin. I clicked onto this 78-second feature with some trepidation, half-expecting a painfully ‘sincere’ form of embarrassment. Actually, Ferrin comes across extremely well and I’m impressed by his dedication: he sold his house to finance the making of UNSPEAKABLE!
The director’s commitment is further accentuated in his excellent commentary track, where he’s joined by actor/executive producer Tim Muskatell. This is a well-natured, humorous but always focused track which offers a lot of detail for those interested in the machinations of "low, low, low budget" filmmaking (Ferrin’s words). You cannot deny the guy’s passion after hearing this. It makes the main feature more enjoyable in some ways.
One of Ferrin’s early shorts follows. Entitled ‘Blood Bath’ it’s a well edited and unusually well-acted 6-minute video piece. Well worth a look.
A gallery of storyboards and production stills runs over the course of 95 seconds, to that same drilling metal riff.
"I sold my house to make it," Ferrin reiterates, "and never made a dime out of it". These words form part of his honest, unassuming but heartfelt 56-second optional introduction to the film – filmed, like the ‘thank you message’, especially for this UK DVD release.
Finally we get trailers for other Cine Du Monde titles: EASTER BUNNY KILL KILL, THE SUICIDE CLUB, WOUND, YAKUZA HUNTERS: ULTIMATE BATTLE ROYALE, YAKUZA HUNTERS: REVENGE DUEL IN HELL and THE GHOULS.
UNSPEAKABLE has flaws aplenty but still demonstrates, beyond its meagre budget and lo-fi filming conditions, that talent will always shine through. True, Ferrin has improved with experience and this can’t match the likes of later films such as EASTER BUNNY KILL KILL, but it’s still definitely worth a look. And you need to buy this, so Ferrin can afford to buy filtered cigarettes: he’s been smoking rollies for the last decade.
Also, the disc itself further demonstrates that Cine Du Monde are developing into a UK genre distributor to take serious note of.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Cine Du Monde|
|see main review|