17th Mar2021

‘The Parish’ Review

by Dom Hastings

Stars: Angela DiMarco, Sanae Loutsis, Ray Tagavilla, Bill Oberst Jr., Sara Coates, Gin Hammond, Amber Wolfe, Ryan Sanders, Lucas Oktay, Jonathan Holbrook | Written by Todd Downing | Directed by David S. Hogan

“Does it always rain here?”

In horror films when families move into a new house or a new town, they always seem to stumble upon a terror of sorts. The Parish is no different in this regard, however, its execution establishes an air on mystique and uncertainty. From director David S. Hogan, and writer Todd Downing, The Parish is a horror film with all the potential in this world, yet doesn’t quite utilise its own possibilities.

Assaulted by visions of her deceased partner dying in combat, Liz (Angela DiMarco) alongside her traumatised daughter, Audrey (Sanae Loutsis), move into a new location for a fresh start in their lives. Inducted into a religious school, the staff are aware of Audrey’s present difficulties having lost her father, so they promise to Liz to look after and ease in her daughter. Whilst Liz privately deals with her mental disturbances, which are worsening (hello jump scares!), Audrey manages to make a friend at school – a quiet student also – and engages in conversation with Sister Beatrice (Gin Hammond) too. Shortly, after an incident involving a creepy school basement and an equally creepy school janitor, the staff converse with Liz, and they seem to lack any knowledge of Audrey’s friend, Sister Beatrice, the janitor, and even the accessibility of the basement – it should be locked at all times! So, what does this all mean? Have Liz and Audrey succumb to delusion, or do the school have ulterior motives?

As more of a mystery thriller than an all-out horror within the film’s duration, the in-frequent placement of jump scares manages to elevate the intensity of the film overall. For three quarters of The Parish, the film is unbelievably mysterious, yet the mystery itself is long delayed until its relevance becomes apparent. It is then in that instance, The Parish fails to fulfill its greatest of potentials. Its transcendence and shift change into full horror, if anything, seriously weakens the film, unfortunately. In its horror mode, there are vulgar presentations – such as children being in danger – however, there is also a lack of anything truly vicious or gory. Despite the inclusion of purely evil, murdersome characters, there is a lack of substance in their depictions.

However, one of the greatest successes within The Parish to take away is that of the dynamic between mother and daughter, Liz and Audrey. Having both lost an integral figure in their family, a partner and a father, they are equally distraught in their existence, yet somehow manage to support each in their respective methods. This great on-screen depiction is a result of wonderful writing, directing and acting. The creative efforts are in full flow with the wholesomeness and sincerity presented with these characters.

Ultimately, The Parish is a really good film…until a certain point. This film perfectly encapsulates the phrase, “progressively worse,” when referring to the third act. It is a terrifically great shame, especially with all of the greatness established early on. If The Parish had been in possession of an extra 20-30 minutes prior to its epic conclusion, then with a decent buildup, this film could have matched the quality of its opening with its ending with ease.

*** 3/5

The Parish is on DVD and Digital now from Uncork’d Entertainment.

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