26th Aug2019

Frightfest 2019: ‘The Perished’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Courtney McKeon, Fiach Kunz, Paul Fitzgerald, Noelle Clarke | Written and Directed by Paddy Murphy

perished-poster

Paddy Murphy (The Three Don’ts) writes and directs The Perished, an Irish supernatural horror flick with a dark and shiver-inducing synopsis which see’s a young woman named Sarah, struggling with the trauma of having an abortion and being broken up with by her boyfriend and shunned by her religious family, who moves into an old house in the country to try to recover. Little does she know that the house is in fact the site of a mass baby grave. The haunting begins as the spirits of the very young unwanted dead seek a mother. Just reading what this film was about before pressing play made me curious, a little worried and slightly uneasy. I mean… this is horror, so that can’t be a bad feeling to have.

The performances from the crew of actors range from okay to pretty poor, but nothing is offensively acted, nothing feels ultra-bad, but there’s certainly a lack of polish and ability going on. Courtney McKeon (The Three Don’ts) does her damnedest to carry the film on her shoulders, and she does a fine job at it. She doesn’t appear to have been acting for long, and if this is anything to go by, she’s started out strong. There are wooden moments in her performance and the performances of others, and it often does feel like an amateur production, but I suppose it kind of is one, and when you look at is as such there is plenty of good to be found here. I’d hate for the term “amateur” to appear in a patronising or negative way, because that isn’t my intention, but the performers do feel untested and quite inexperienced. I think the story was told pretty well though, regardless of the off-putting or inadequate parts of the acting side of things.

One of the strong points of The Perished was the terrific sound design. The way the haunting sound of babies crying and the over-encumbering sound of growing noise comes in and out of a variety of scenes works very well and helps to grow this tense and gloomy atmosphere. The music is a touch on the side of tame melodrama in comparison to the effective use of sound in the aforementioned sequences, feeling a little outdated and not particularly always fitting with the often gritty tone that Murphy was obviously going for. It wasn’t bad, but it did strike me as a little conflicting from time to time. There is use of some folk music, however, that I thought added a wonderful touch.

I thought the tension and creepy mood that Murphy and his team accomplished here was another solid aspect of the movie. It was often claustrophobic and there are a good few jump scares to get the blood pumping too. The use of shadows and reflections and movements in the periphery is done really well, and helped to add to the discomfort. There are other practical effects in play here too, and those perhaps don’t work as well, feeling a touch cheap and crude. Still, for a low budget production, it’s to be expected, and it helped to keep the story going.

The Perished is fresh, interesting and often chilling with its supernatural horror. What it lacks in the occasional substandard performance, it makes up for with the story itself and the use of macabre visuals. Not the most mind blowing ghost story I’ve seen but still one I had fun with, and found a lot to like about, The Perished should appease those in need of a decent spooky tale.

**½  2.5/5

The Perished screened at Arrow Video Frightfest on Monday August 26th 2019.

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