Perpetrator (2023)
September 2, 2023 2:25 PM - Subscribe

[TRAILER] Jonny Baptiste (Kiah McKirnan) is a reckless teen sent to live with her estranged Aunt Hildie (Alicia Silverstone). On her 18th birthday, she experiences a radical metamorphosis: a family spell that redefines her called Forevering. When several teen girls go missing at her new school, a mythically feral Jonny goes after the perpetrator.

Also starring Christopher Lowell, Ireon Roach.

Written and directed by Jennifer Reeder.

79% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

A Shudder original. JustWatch.
posted by DirtyOldTown (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Jennifer Reeder has always had style for miles, but has often put energy into set pieces, great shots, and thematic framework to such an extent, she does not always seem that interested in how coherent and cohesive the actual story is.

Night's End, her last feature, had a scriot that made sense, give or take, and that vibed better for me personally than her earlier stuff, but I still couldn't disappear into it as a story. This one, I can... just. And it's fun.

If Jennifer Reeder's feminist, weird, kid who stayed up all night on an art project that seems like it might be cool if you knew what the fuck it even was energy bugged you, this will not change your mind. If you loved that, you will still love this. If you admired her, but had reservations, you may find, like me that by tethering her style to even this slightly standard story, it kept you much more engaged. It brings her safely over from indie/arthouse filmmaker with talent who uses horror tropes into the kind of horror filmmaker genre needs will have an easier time getting behind. I was watching this enjoying the story, as opposed to just admiring Reeder's style.

I may yet check in again with thoughts on the provocative thematic stuff and how great it is to see her work with such a good cast. But for now, I will leave it at this main thought: this is the Jennifer Reeder film that pulls it together.

It's not at all perfect. But it might someday be the film where Jennifer Reeder started making a case as a great horror filmmaker and not just a talented horror adjacent stylist.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:33 PM on September 2, 2023

Also: my spouse, the rarely seen MeFite known as Comrade Doll, would like me to tell everyone that the awesome retro wallpaper in Jonny's room at Hildie's house? We have that in our bedroom. So.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 2:56 PM on September 2, 2023 [1 favorite]

Loved this, loved the way-out-there style, and loved that the things you accept as just symbolism and metaphor wind up being more concrete than you think (to be vague about it: the fountain of blood during Code Massacre: Level Bloodbath).

Also loved that despite the many sharp teeth present in the promotional art, the focus of the film is on preternatural empathy more than murdering skills.

Also—so great to see Alicia Silverstone chewing the scenery. I know she’s been working—including appearances in excellent horror films The Lodge and The Killing of a Sacred Deer—but it was a blast to see her in this role.

Finally: Loved that the ending was basically the same as the ending of the Buffy TV series.
posted by ejs at 8:59 PM on September 5, 2023 [1 favorite]

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