The Perished Image

The Perished

By Brian Shaer | April 7, 2020

While the acting is generally effective all around, interactions can sometimes border on the histrionic. Sarah and Davet’s screaming match, for instance, reminds one of two acting students playing angry. Still, Kunz as Shane and Clarke as Elaine deserve particular accolades. Clarke has a coldness about her that only complements her character’s hardheartedness as she spits fire at her daughter.

My issue with the movie is that it tells us one thing, but seems to advocate for another. The Perished situates Sarah as guilt-ridden about having undergone an abortion and having denied her maternal destiny, despite Sarah’s explicit declaration that she isn’t ready for motherhood. Maternal guilt has long provided fertile territory for classic horror films such as Rosemary’s Baby and The Others.

“…it tells us one thing, but seems to advocate for another.”

However, writer-director Paddy Murphy chooses to incorporate horror elements that seem designed to punish Sarah for her choice. A choice that is clearly right for her and made on her terms. The closer The Perished moves towards its bloody conclusion, the more it seems to indicate that Sarah was inherently wrong for the choices she made. “It’s a woman’s choice to have an abortion, but she’ll pay for it with her sanity,” the movie seems to espouse.

Ultimately, I think the creature-feature element was misguided for The Perished. The film culminates in perhaps the only way it can in keeping with horror tropes, but the final shot, maddeningly, undoes everything the climax has worked towards. The movie seems to know that it’s taking an unpopular stance and then tries to make up for it in the last shot. Audiences are smarter than that.

Maternal horror can almost be classified as a subgenre all its own. But the films nevertheless need to stand by the courage of their convictions and respect the choices the mother figure makes, even if she doesn’t realize why she is making them. The Perished focuses on the macabre, not the mom.

The Perished (2020)

Directed and Written: Paddy Murphy

Starring: Courtney McKeon, Fiach Kunz, Noelle Clarke, Conor Lambert, Paul Fitzgerald, Stephen Tubridy, Lisa Tyrrell, Oisin Robbins, etc.

Movie score: 7/10

The Perished Image

"…Maternal horror can almost be classified as a subgenre all its own."

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