UK Release date: 18th June 2012
UK Distributor: Cine Du Monde
Director: Chad Ferrin
Starring: Roger Garcia, Tamera Noll, Leigh Silver, Larry Richards, Rae Robinson
Running time: 81 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
When a director informs you that – in order to make a movie – he sold his house and didn’t make a dime, you realise just how personal the art of filmmaking can be. That will probably be the last time I use the word ‘art’ in the same sentence as ‘a Chad Ferrin movie’. In a humorous introduction to his breakout movie, Unspeakable, Chad is incredibly honest about his hopes for the DVD release of his “warts and all” debut. In an emotional plea to the camera, he informs the audience that – with the aid of a recognised distributor – he hopes to afford some filtered cigarettes. We all have dreams I guess.
Chad Ferrin is a low-budget horror filmmaker from Minnesota. Shot for just $20,000, Unspeakable was his writing and feature-directing debut. Unspeakable is available for the first time this month courtesy of Cine du Monde, no strangers to the work of Chad Ferrin. The good folk at Cine du Monde were also responsible for the release of his 2006 oddity, Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! Great title I know. Despite a slower start than a teasing tortoise, EBKK is a movie that bounces away with your common sense and taste. It sure takes its time to get there, but Ferrin’s gut-punching gore fest is a low budget horror movie worth its weight in gold-en foil. Unspeakable – warts and all – attempts the same trick, but can Ferrin pull the rabbit out of the hat for the second time, or are some things better left unsaid?
Starring Roger Cline, Tamera Noll, Leigh Silver, and some guy (I kid you not) called Wolf Dangler, Unspeakable is hardly subtle when it comes to gore soaked brutality and vengeance. James (Roger Cline) and Alice (Tamera Noll) are on the rocky road of married life when tragedy befalls them. Jim’s world comes crashing down after a devastating car crash leaves his little angel (Leigh Silver) dead, and his wife confined to a wheelchair. Alice is left wide open to the sexual desires of her caretaker, Barry (Easter Bunny’s Timothy Muskatell), while Jim sets out on a revenge mission against God. Tortured by recurring hallucinations, Jim strikes back at the world with a razorblade, slicing and dicing his way through the heart of the city.
We’ll forgive Ferrin for a lack of restraint on this one – he was only 24 at the time – but Unspeakable does take things a little too far at times, with the first time director mistaking vulgarity for comedy effect. The Barry/Alice story arc leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and doesn’t seem entirely necessary, taking the edge off an effective tale of tragedy, torment and revenge. Jim hates his wife and blames her for everything that went wrong – he was having an argument with his drunken wife when the accident took place. He loves his daughter Heather with all his heart, and unsurprisingly really, it’s not just his heart that wants a piece of the action. You could never accuse Ferrin of good taste, anyone that’s seen his no-budget horror opus, Ghouls, will testify to that fact. Unspeakable takes a sledgehammer to plausibility, purity and decency, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
There’s no mercy for the inhabitants of Ferrin’s world, with drug pushers, whores, priests and predators feeling the force of Jim’s rage. Horror fans will clamber for the rush of blood, and they won’t be disappointed by this colourful debut - Unspeakable doesn’t exactly hold back when it comes to depravity and decay. The acting is weak throughout, with underwritten characters and inconsistent performances taking the shine off a venomous venture. Cline’s protagonist is all over the place, but it’s Timothy Muskatell that deserves the biggest slap. He was surprisingly effective in Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! so clearly he’s learnt a few things along the way, but Barry is one of the most annoying characters ever committed to film. Having said that, Muskatell excels at annoying stereotypes, and it’s not as though we’re expected to root for any of these characters anyway. Barry is a lowlife and deserves to die a painful death - that’s about as deep and meaningful as Ferrin likes to get. Muskatell provides the film with its most effective kill, making a sharp point about degeneracy, distaste and dire consequence in the process.
Lewd, crude and inconsistent, Ferrin’s debut is not an easy watch by anyone’s standards. Unspeakable is awash with poor performances, shoddy production values and desperate humour. There are times when it takes itself way too seriously, but the actors aren’t up to the task and the comedy sound effects only serve to frustrate. Unspeakable works best as a sleazy horror picture, finding its feet whenever the screen runs red with blood. There are times when Unspeakable heads into psychological thriller territory, but Ferrin doesn’t have the writing talent or the cast to pull it off. Despite all this, Ferrin deserves praise for holding my attention throughout. Subtlety clearly isn’t his strong point, but there are signs of a promising filmmaker at work here – in a no-thrill, low budget horror kind of way.
Cheap and cheerless, blunt and brutal, Chad Ferrin introduces himself to the world in the loudest way imaginable. Unspeakable isn’t a good film in the traditional sense of the word, but it’s raw and uncompromising filmmaking, and fans of low budget horror movies will revel in the depravity of it all. Despite numerous flaws, sometimes you just have to get down and dirty, and that’s where Chad comes in. Who knows, maybe he’ll get his filtered cigarettes after all.