Tuesday, 7 January 2014
Laura Parnes - County Down
The plot of what Ms. Parnes’s Web site describes as a “web-based episodic digital film” is complicated. Set in a wealthy, gated community, “County Down” revolves around the invention and distribution of a psychedelic drug — delivered and consumed in nippled baby bottles — by a teenage girl named Angel. For unclear reasons, her parents and those of her friends are going insane. There are zombies, cannibalism and murder, including a matricidal decapitation. It’s a blatantly ridiculous and yet weirdly compelling soap opera; “Night of the Living Dead” meets “Pretty Little Liars.”
Serious-minded viewers might find in Ms. Parnes’s film social commentary on addiction, consumerism, the media, adolescent angst, suburban ennui and so forth. Whatever. Mainly, it’s a hoot.
The whole thing is very '90s -- it looks like a video game informed by rave culture, anime, McMansions and Clinton-era oblivion. Its protagonist, Angel, could be a composite of a slightly snazzed-up Daria from MTV and Christina Ricci's Wendy from The Ice Storm -- she's different, dark, sassy, smart and maybe dangerous. She has heavy blue eye makeup and a vintage schoolgirl wardrobe, and she's in over her head.
"Destruction is the one principle in the world we can count on," Angel says, two-thirds of the way through Parnes' film. "That and Quix." Parnes initially called the drug Triple X, but then xXx the movie came out. She tried calling it Tsunami instead, but then the devastating tsunami hit Japan. Quix had none of that baggage. "It's like instant sweetness or something," Angel gushes in County Down. "It sounds like immediate gratification," says Parnes.
The film ends when most adults have died or lost their minds completely -- one woman tries to devour her son's leg -- and even Angel's friends have begun to crawl around delusionally, due to the dwindling supply of Quix. In the last scene, men in white jumpsuits and face masks lead Angel and Tanya from their gated enclave into the wider world. We hear Angel's voice, coming at us from the future, nostalgic for her moment of disastrous, youthful free reign: "Everything's different now and I know that's a good thing, but sometimes I wish I could go back to that time, when I was really a part of something."
COUNTY DOWN TRAILER 2011 from Laura Parnes on Vimeo.