Viewer and reader discretion is advised as this film contains themes such as abortion and child loss.
The great thing about independent movies - and this is especially true for indie horror - is the freedom creators and artists have to tell their story, touch on topics that Hollywood would no doubt deem too controversial, and tell it in a way that comes off as entertainment, but has a deeper, underlying meaning. Sometimes those meanings aren't totally obvious and require some deeper thought, and other times the creators don't try and hide it, and quite literally put it in your face. It personally felt that was the case with the new-to-streaming Irish horror THE PERISHED, a film that could definitely be pretty controversial with certain audiences - which is a good thing it's a part of the horror community; over the years, I've come to learn that horror fans, writers, creators and artists are all some of the more open-minded, willing to listen, willing to learn people you could meet, most of which are open to thought-provoking subjects and storylines. And that is definitely what you will get with this movie. The pain - the emotional and physical pain - suffered by the lead character after choosing to have an abortion is raw, clear, heartbreaking. The Perished - written and directed by Paddy Murphy - is a film that will take you to places that only people who have been there before have experienced, and the film does a fantastic job doing it tastefully and respectful, yet horrifying and emotional at the same time. This is a film that you will either like it, or you won't - there's no inbetween, and that's perfectly fine; I just hope this film reaches those horror audiences I just mentioned that can take this film - and its a message - the way I believe the creative team behind it intended, cause it's a beautifully tragic, painful watch that needs to be seen.
Sarah (Courtney McKeon) is a young, fun-loving Irish woman who unexpectedly gets pregnant from her boyfriend Shane (Fiach Kunz). At about the two month mark, Sarah decides to have an abortion following a conversation with Shane where - instead of being able to tell him she was pregnant - Shane tells Sarah that he feels their relationship is falling apart, and he wants there to be some space between them. After being kicked out of her house by her mother, Sarah and her best friend Davet (Paul Fitzgerald) go to his family's country home which used to be a "mother and baby home" - something I'd previously seen in other movies but didn't know was an actual part of Irish history. Just for some backstory, these "homes" were far from homes: they were where the Catholic church would bring in what they deemed "fallen women," or women who were pregnant out of wedlock and essentially turn them into slaves. Some quick research will present some of the unspeakable horrors that went down in these religious prisons, and suddenly the whole tone of the film took a much darker turn than I was honestly expecting. Once there, Sarah begins experiencing visions and horrors that she can't even really put to words, and once Davet leaves Sarah alone in the house, things really begin to ramp up to the point of absolute fucking terror. The souls of the babies who lost their lives in the home - the Perished - physically manifest as they are looking for love from the only thing they want: a mother.
If you're looking for gore, blood and over-the-top special effects, look elsewhere - that's not the type of movie The Perished is, and after finally seeing it, I'm happy it's not. It certainly has it's slightly graphic moments, but The Perished really keeps it to a minimum and feels like it only does so to help drive its story, not to deliver a blood fest. The Perished is a very story-driven film that some may even say feels slow to get going, and they may not be wrong; the first hour of the film has a lot of dialogue, not a lot of "action" - but there's a totally justified reason for this. The first hour sets the stage for the final thirty minutes where things really take a turn. Once Shane and Sarah link back up and the news of the pregnancy and abortion are out on the table, things just get insane. You'll be face to face with Kilin - a physical manifestation of the children who died in the home - and what follows will leave you speechless, honestly.
Like I mentioned earlier, this is very much an emotional film that will take a piece of you with it. You'll feel Sarah's pain. You'll hear her screams. You'll be placed in her shoes where she's got this incredible inner torment going on that she can't put to words. She's haunted - both physically and emotionally - by what has happened and as the film progresses, things just go from bad to worse. It can be a tough watch, but it's a rewarding, eye-opening watch nonetheless. It's hard to not say too much about the final half hour, since I truly don't want to spoil or lead on any ideas, but this is one that I promise you: sit through the dialogue, understand the situation, and the final half hour of the film will shake you. The film is beautifully shot, the acting is pretty spot on, and the creature Kilin is absolutely terrifying to look at; but The Perished is definitely a "big picture" kind of film - you have to see it to understand just what this project is and means.
For a couple of bucks, spend an hour and a half of your quarantine to check out The Perished, available now on demand everywhere. It's honestly unlike anything you've seen or experienced before - and even though the "horror" elements are on the lower end, there's plenty of horror within if you know where to find it. Check it out.