In May of 2018, Ireland voted by over 66% to remove the
I bring all of this up because it’s important to know the history of abortion in Ireland to understand The Perished, the upcoming film from writer/director Paddy Murphy (The Three Don’ts). Today, we’re proud and excited to bring you an exclusive look at the first teaser trailer for the film, which follows a young woman who deals with the aftermath of her abortion and all those who were affected.
The film shot late last year primarily in Western Ireland, where Murphy and his team – known as Celtic Badger Media – took over a parochial home and told a story that all too many women will relate to.
Murphy explains, “I’m a big
“With this story, I took reference from films like Don’t Look Now, The Changeling, and The Brood – strong, dramatic character pieces that happen to have a horror component. I knew the story I wanted to tell had to be one I was passionate about, and women’s rights is something I’ve always championed. With the repeal the 8th movement and the discovery of the mass baby grave in Tuam, I knew I wanted to touch on these real-life battles and discoveries in the film. It’s probably the most human film I’ve made to date, as the characters, especially Sarah, are what really create the grey space to form your own opinions on the story and investigate other peoples perspectives. I think tackling a film like this in any other medium than horror could never have done it justice as the actual reality of what happened here in Ireland was so brutal and horrific that the supernatural element actually makes it a little more digestible.
“This film, the cast and crew and everyone who has championed it, honestly mean more to me than you can possibly imagine.”
Director of Photography and producer Barry Fahy tells us:
“Being Paddy’s DOP, first and foremost my job is to help take Paddy’s vision for the film and make it a reality. Being a producer on the film also felt to me like the same principals applied. Being involved from early concepts to script drafts, looking at what was needed to make it a reality. Most of the production on my end was from a technical aspect of prepping the film, [such as] making sure we had the equipment to make the film a reality and step up our production from previous shoots by learning from all of our previous works and building on what we have already. Our biggest leap during this film was having a proper video village. We reverse engineered Paddy’s “In Ears” for audio by using a wireless lav system that I had purchased to send a wireless audio signal to Paddy’s headphones for a clearer picture of the final product.
“As DOP I got to take on a topical horror film in both a realistic and a stylistic way and create great images to help tell a compelling story. Amazing visuals mean nothing without a story worth telling and I’m really glad I had the opportunity and capacity to help Paddy create this film.”
Courtney McKeon, who plays the main character Sarah Dekker, tells Dread Central:
“What it meant to play Sarah so close after the referendum is a layered question. When Paddy first approached with the script, we were months away from the vote. There was so much uncertainty about whether it would pass or not and there was this sense of urgency with the film, that the message could possibly have a sell-by date. Should May 25th render a “No” vote, we would be making a film about something that had been voted by people we knew, people around us, as illegal. Fast forward to May 25th, much to a lot of peoples surprise, the “Yes” vote won. I was very lucky to have a family of “Yes” voters. Even my 90-year-old granny had her say for the women of Ireland.
“When it came time to play Sarah in October of 2018, you still could not access an abortion in Ireland. It would be January before any legislation would pass. Playing Sarah showed me the journey so many women had done before me. Everyone knows someone who had to travel. Sitting in Shannon airport as we filmed the scene, I was struck by the weight of what we were doing with the film. I felt their stories on my shoulders and knew I was doing something that transcended horror and film. I was their voice and their face. A topic which was shamed into silence for so long was now at the centre of this film with me as the protagonist.
“As the film went on I carried that with me. Each time Sarah suffered I knew what I was playing was not just Paddy’s fiction, but many women’s reality. Sarah was a cathartic experience in many ways [as] she helped me deal with what could have been should the “Yes” side have lost. Even the horror side has this metaphorical edge that roots the film in reality. Sure, no one is really going to be haunted by demon babies, but many women who have to travel are haunted by shame and guilt. Even when the decision is their own, like Sarah’s, many girls and women were abandoned; abandoned by their families, sent away to mother and baby homes, left to fend for themselves, all for shame.
“At the end of the day this film is important. It’s not just a well-written elevated horror, it’s a brave show of face for a topic that has always required silence. I’m proud of what I could achieve with Sarah and I would play her again in a heartbeat.”
Vachn Gill, co-producer, added:
“On most other [Celtic Badger Media] shoots before this, I’ve mainly worked in art department or done makeup and SFX. Being in business this long, you learn to see and anticipate where the gaps are and come up with solutions ASAP or you can find yourself in trouble. That experience in my day job gave me a leg up in being a producer on this film. It was a natural fit. Seeing a lot of small problems and fixing them on a tight deadline. I definitely feel like finding and sorting out all the small things really helps you see the bigger picture clearly. It really makes you appreciate how important each role is no matter how small seeming.
“I got to do everything from cat wrangling to catering for 26 people. The team we have is like a family. Everyone has each other’s backs, so even if things go wrong on set, as they can often do, you know you can delegate to people you trust and know everything will get done. You know everyone’s strengths and you play to that. Juggling other roles was difficult at times, but knowing you have a family behind you to support you all the way and help get things done, made it run as well as it did. That and lots of hugs. We’re definitely huggers.”
Written and directed by Paddy Murphy, The Perished stars Courtney McKeon, Paul Fitzgerald, Fiach Kunz, Lisa Tyrrell, and Stephen Tubridy. The film is currently in post-production and we’re keeping a very close eye on it.