Chad Ferrin, Genre Auteur Goes Deep in New Cult Horror Film

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Chad Ferrin has made seven feature films over the last two decades, each of them a celebration of the Grotesque. All of these movies shared a certain DIY ingenuity along with an obvious obsession with the limits of sanity.

Despite their collective preoccupations, no two of Ferrin’s flicks were alike. The director brazenly leaped from the no-budget social satire of The Ghouls (2003) to the festive revenge film Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2007)

It was there, in a seemingly threadbare narrative with one primary location, Ferrin found his footing as a filmmaker. The tale of a disabled kid and his doting single mom provided the director the opportunity to explore difficult subject matter such as child abuse, Munchausen by proxy and more, all within the snug confines of the exploitation genre.

Not two years later, the promise on display in the bloody bunny pic would reach a new apex with Someone’s Knocking at the Door (2009). Produced, in part, by actor/star Noah Segan (Knives Out, Deadgirl), ‘Someone’s Knocking’ is a positively bugfuck psychological horror film about a group of med students who stumble upon a drug that resurrects two sexually voracious thrill-killers.

In the years since ‘Someone’s Knocking,’ Ferrin has seen several of his projects fall apart in various stages of pre-production. First there was the widely announced Dances with Werewolves which made it into the pages of Fangoria before financing fell apart.

The oddball horror western hybrid was ultimately retooled by other filmmakers and released to zero fan fare in 2017, by which time Ferrin had seen a number of other concepts collapse in his wake. After dealing with years of frustration and false deals from bogus money men, Ferrin decided to return to his roots.

In 2016, he took to the fetid streets of downtown Los Angeles to make what should have been the guerilla filmmaking triumph of the decade. Parasites was to be a gritty modernization of Colter’s Run with the action transplanted to the culverts, underpasses, back alleys and reservoirs of LA’s homeless population.

After facing down violent protest from real life street addicts and a flurry of problems typical of shoestring productions, Ferrin managed to successfully execute the film he set out to make. The result is a mean little picture with balls as big as the bone it’s got to pick with society.

Boasting a ferocious performance by chameleonic character actor Robert Miano (Donnie Brasco, The Funeral) as the central heavy, Parasites exemplified Ferrin’s talent for taking a familiar trope (the middle class take a detour and end up in a place they don’t belong) and amplifying it to 11.

What should have been a breakout hit for the genre auteur ended up going the way of countless other direct-to-DVD flicks when Ferrin discovered that his domestic production partners had gone behind his back, secretly releasing the pic on streaming platforms in the United States and quietly selling off International territories.

After he managed to wrest his film from the greasy hands of his rapacious partners, Ferrin found another distributor who had some ideas of their own. A full two years after principal photography was complete, Parasites bowed out on Amazon Prime under the uninspired title Attack in LA.

Situations like this one are hardly remarkable in the film industry where handshake deals are regularly reneged upon and distributors frequently betray a director’s vision by re-cutting a movie. What is remarkable is Ferrin’s perseverance. Lesser artists would have thrown in the towel, but Chad understood something that’s lost on others—keep yourself busy and, sooner or later, someone’s gonna be knocking on your door.

As a gun for hire, the man has been presented with many an opportunity to work from other people’s source material. In some cases, such as the Mexican investor who tapped him to shoot a B-movie south of the border before slashing his director’s fee in half without warning, things don’t pan out, for good or ill. In others, such as 2019’s Girls & Corpses-produced horror-comedy Exorcism at 60,000 Feet, things end up going another way.

Working from a script by Robert Rhine (son of famed All in the Family scribe Larry Rhine) and Daniel Benton, Ferrin used ‘Exorcism‘ as yet another golden opportunity to flex his stylistic muscles. As with Someone’s Knocking at the Door and Parasites before it, ‘Exorcism‘ illustrated the director’s knack for utilizing woefully underutilized actors and subverting genre expectations.

In 2020, he is poised to take this subversion one step further with The Deep Ones, the first of his films to be inspired by an existing intellectual property. The Deep Ones takes the tired framework of a couple on vacation among strangers with dark motives, and thrusts it into territory that has yet to be explored in cinema.

Fans of H.P. Lovecraft will be thrilled to learn that Ferrin has grafted the insidious influence of Rosemary’s Baby onto a plot revolving around the summoning of Cthulhu by a cult undergoing the Innsmouth transformation.

Many in the horror community have professed love for Lovecraft’s work and some, like Jordan Peele, have produced work that pays homage to said influence. What nobody has done is unleash the Cthulhu mythos on characters of their own creation.

Few would have the guts, but it would seem that Ferrin has intestines for days. Something smells fishy at the Solar Beach Colony when Petri and Alex arrive at the Air BnB of Russell Marsh, a charismatic naturopath with a powerful hunger for clams.

What follows is a terrifying 24 hours beside the dark depths of Cthulhu’s oceanic abyss. Filming for The Deep Ones begins this month in several seaside locations with Robert Miano returning to play the picture’s villain and Deadgirl‘s Jim Ojala on board as makeup effects coordinator.

 

Robert Rhine, Johann Urb and Kelly Maroney (Night of the Comet) will also star with Underworld‘s Kurt Carley appearing as none other than Dagon.

After a sneak peek at the shooting script, I can definitely tell that this will be Ferrin’s most ambitious project to date. As with everything else he’s directed, I have no doubt that he’ll knock it out of the park.

And I’m not the only one, actor Johann Urb (Resident Evil: Retribution) is also confident. “Super excited to be working with this team of talented people and to explore the depths of darkness,” he says.

The cast’s enthusiasm is understandable given the meatiness of each role. It’s one salty or sinister character cropping up after the other, many of them receiving the rare chance to deliver their lines in a particularly obscure tongue.

The plot itself and the turns it takes may seem hackneyed to those who grew up on Polanski and Larry Cohen flicks, but suffice it to say that this one is going to take some gnarly turns. The fundamental theme is freaky enough in and of itself.

As cast member Silvia Spross (Someone’s Knocking at the Door, Mysteria) says, “The horror of brainwash is that good people do horrible things, thinking they are doing something great!”

The Deep Ones was developed from an original screenplay by Ferrin himself. What this tells us is that Ferrin is back where he belongs, behind the keys and at the helm. Veteran actor and frequent Ferrin collaborator Robert Miano is inclined to agree. As he puts it, “Nothing can stop an idea that’s found its time.”

Keep your bloodshot eyes peeled for more on The Deep Ones as news oozes in.

Bob Freville

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