Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Dave Oren Ward
What's it about
Steve and Samantha are an interracial couple who are victims of a gang attack by a vicious group of skinheads. Eventually, Sam commits suicide. This pushes Steve over the edge, as he reinvents himself into one of them, infiltrating the gang, learning their trade and biding his time until he can destroy them.
Is it good movie?
Whoo. This was not your average film, and not a subject I am really thrilled with having to cover, but I'll tell you that Pariah is some heavy duty sh*t that will stick with you for awhile. It's not just your average revenge plot because it deals heavily with a serious issue of real hate that takes place even today, which is unfathomable.
It's true that this film isn't going to break any new ground and that the ideas aren't the most novel ones, but the film remains poignant, honest and brutal. I particularly thought that the skinhead characters were well fleshed out, and themes of homosexuality and other differences between us humans are expounded upon in a three dimensional way.
As far as complaints go, I'd have to say that Steve's character is the one that garners the most of my negative attention. It just seems that the man is completely unpredictable when his methods should be a bit more concrete- he seems to be chomping at the bit at one turn, and then ready to follow the gang's orders at the next. I suppose this sounds like nitpicking as the film may be portraying the unpredictability of a trauma victim, but to me it seemed like an off performance.
The film's ending also seemed a bit rushed or perhaps simply not as satisfying as it could have been. It's also a very, very violent film, unfortunately letting violence take the place of some character development. I understand that this may be the only development we need, but at times some of the characters seem like clichés- but again I digress, some of these hatemongers can be this way.
Pariah is a well enough made film that was tough to watch and definitely struck a chord with me. Senseless hatred is a tough thing to ignore, and this film pushes it in your face and dares you to watch.
Video / Audio
Video is a gritty 16 x 9 anamorphic widescreen that doesn't look so hot.
Audio is an okay 5.1 Dolby mix.
Start off with a couple of audition tapes, for those who like that sort of thing.
A director's commentary is next, although I had a hard time listening to the whole thing, not because it's poorly done, but because the filmmakers feel the need to often express that they are not racist, as if the giant disclaimer at the end of the film wasn't enough. It's a well done commentary, but usually I need to really love a film to love its commentary as well.
There's also a short piece on the history of skinheads, which is easily the best feature on the disc, a good choice to have it on there, as it provides some decent background info on the choice subject.
Along with this, you get radio ads, storyboards, TV spots, and various trailers.
Pariah is a low budget film that some may believe is a glossy tribute to American History X, and while I can understand the comparisons, I also think that it stands on its own merit as a film that deserves to be watched in its own right. It's brutal, violent and to the point and will certainly send its message home hard.