PERPETRATOR on Shudder is a new horror movie with a mythical (and, yes, somewhat mysterious) plot. It won’t be for everyone, but there’s definitely an audience for it. And the wonderful cast will draw in viewers. Read our full Perpetrator movie review here!
PERPETRATOR is a new Shudder horror movie from Jennifer Reeder. If you’re familiar with the filmmaker, you’ll already know whether her style is for you or not. Personally, it depends on my mood and overall state of mind. I liked this new horror movie, but still can’t really say I enjoyed it.
To be fair, this is also due to the story. As someone who likes weird stories based on lore, fairytales, or other mythical tales, I can go along with most things. That’s probably why I’m fine with this movie, but I also recognize it will not be for everyone.
Continue reading our Perpetrator horror movie review below. Find the film in select theaters and on Shudder from September 1, 2023.
A reckless teen and her estranged aunt
In Perpetrator, we meet the 17-year-old Jonny Baptiste (Kiah McKirnan). She is very much a reckless teen, who might live with her dad, but is also very much left to her own devices. On the one hand, this suits Jonny just fine. However, in moments we also see her carry out “pretend conversations” where she dreams of having a parent who cares.
After some strange events that I won’t go into here, she is sent to live with her estranged Aunt Hildie (Alicia Silverstone).
This happens just before her 18th birthday. A day Aunt Hildie seems acutely aware of. On her birthday, Jonny experiences a strange form of metamorphosis. Fortunately, Aunt Hildie is there to help her through it and explain that it’s a family spell called “Forevering”.
Simply put, it’s an extreme form of empathy. One that enables Jonny to feel what someone else is going through. As in she can physically and emotionally feel what they are feeling. At her new school, several teen girls have gone missing, and when Jonny looks at their “Missing Person”-posters, she can sense the girls.
This results in the now mythically feral Jonny going after the Perpetrator to save the girls.
Along with Kiah McKirnan in the lead role, and Alicia Silverstone as her guide in this new life, we have Christopher Lowell (My Best Friend’s Exorcism), Melanie Liburd (Gypsy), and Ireon Roach (Candyman) in key roles.
The current IMDb rating for Perpetrator is at just under 5, as of writing this. However, when a film is called a “Feminist Horror-Noir”, you probably know by now that you cannot trust IMDd ratings. Okay, to be fair, you rarely can.
Still, anything feminist, anti-racism, or LGBTQ-related will immediately get many low ratings, so just ignore this and decide for yourself.
And yes, Perpetrator is very much a Feminist Horror-Noir, so the label is appropriate. But that doesn’t mean all the male characters are awful creatures. Quite the opposite.
One of the most loving and popular characters in this movie is a young man, who gets caught up in the middle of a serial abductor’s plans as the girls he hooks up with are targeted. Poor guy!
Watch Perpetrator on Shudder or in select theaters
As mentioned already, Perpetrator is a horror movie written and directed by Jennifer Reeder. Her previous feature films were Night’s End (2022) and Knives and Skin (2019). She also did a segment of the horror anthology V/H/S/94. The segment titled “Holy Hell”.
For the record: If the description of “Feminist Horror-Noir” makes you roll your eyes and snort-laugh, then obviously this movie isn’t for you. Or, actually, it definitely is for you, but you’d never be able to see it for what it actually is.
On the other hand, if this description makes you curious, then you should definitely check it out. Just know that Jennifer Reeder isn’t a conventional storyteller. There are many things left unsaid and symbolism is used throughout. Still, there is also “just” a story there that you can enjoy for its on-the-nose kitsch and campy approach.
Perpetrator opens in Select Theaters and Streaming on Shudder on September 1, 2023.
Director: Jennifer Reeder
Screenwriter: Jennifer Reeder
Starring: Kiah McKirnan, Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Lowell, Melanie Liburd, Casimere Jollette, Ireon Roach, Sasha Kuznetsov, Greta Stolte
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.