Starring Courtney McKeon, Paul Fitzgerald, Lisa Tyrrell, Fiach Kunz, Conor Lambert
Directed by Paddy Murphy
Abortion is still a relatively taboo topic in the Republic of Ireland, so we have to commend writer and director Paddy Murphy for tackling the subject head on with his new film The Perished, which can now be viewed on multiple VOD platforms. Let me preface this review by saying that I am absolutely pro-choice, although The Perished is still recommended viewing regardless of your position on the issue of abortion.
Courtney McKeon plays a young woman named Sarah, who unwillingly becomes pregnant, before fleeing abroad to have an abortion. This comes as a shock to her devout Catholic mother, who is appalled by her daughter’s actions. Wanting to escape from her overbearing parent while she tries to work out what to do, Sarah and her gay friend Davet flee to an idyllic country house for what they hope will be a short break from reality, but things don’t exactly go according to plan. Because it turns out their picturesque country retreat was actually a site where abortions were performed en masse, and the spirits of the aborted foetuses are none too pleased about the new arrivals in their home. Sarah and Davet soon realise that there is something not right about the house, with the flocks of dead birds appearing in the driveway being a dead give away.
The Perished is filled with beautiful shots of rural Ireland, and Murphy almost seems to be mocking us by asking how such a gorgeous country could have such an ugly history when it comes to the topic of abortion. And unlike most Hollywood productions these days, which rely primarily on jump scares, Murphy instead opts for a much slower approach, allowing the tension to gradually build up while also creating a growing sense of unease as the supernatural elements slowly begin to unwind. We also need to praise McKeon for her performance as Sarah, as she paints a convincing picture of a woman who starts questioning her own sanity as she is menaced by malevolent entities.
And while we wouldn’t exactly call The Perished a monster movie, we will say, without going too deeply into spoiler territory, that something appears towards the end which will probably haunt your dreams for years to come. It can’t have been easy to create a living embodiment of the souls of countless aborted foetuses, but creature designer Bekki Tubridy did an incredible job of bringing it to life.
Whatever your views on abortion, The Perished is a powerful film which is likely to encourage serious debate on the subject. And it’s also a damn fine horror movie about vengeful aborted foetuses, so even if you’re not looking for something with a serious moral message, you’ll still enjoy The Perished without having to read too deeply into the subtext. This may even be one of Ireland’s strongest entries in the horror genre to date.
Director Paddy Murphy ensures that The Perished stands out from the crowd by allowing the plot to gradually unfold at its own pace while also working to create a lingering sense of unease. Regardless of how you feel about its subject matter, this is still one supernatural horror story which fans of the genre should seek out immediately.