Jennifer Reeder’s Missing Girls Horror Is A Trip Dripping In Blood & Atmosphere [Berlin]

Feb 26, 2023

The films of Jennifer Reeder have an unmistakable vibe. Her acclaimed short films, including “All Small Bodies” and “Crystal Lake,” have been shown on The Criterion Channel, and her feature film “Knives and Skin” has been shown at Berlin and Tribeca. 
READ MORE: ‘Inside’ Review: Vasilis Katsoupis’ Heist Thriller With Willem Dafoe Is Formulaic Yet Never Dull [Berlin]
Reeder’s films, which have been described as the meeting point between David Lynch and John Hughes, share little in terms of plot, but all bear an unmistakable eeriness, an otherworldliness that could only be Reeder. Jennifer Reeder has cemented her status as a horror doyenne with her fourth feature film, “Perpetrator,” premiering in the Panorama section of this year’s Berlin International Film Festival. 
READ MORE: The 25 Most Anticipated Horror Films Of 2023
Returning to her usual theme park of girlhood, teenagedom, and the weird ways in which their bodies can be weaponized, her protagonist is the quick-witted Jonny (Kiah McKirnan) who, like all teenagers are wont to do, thinks there’s something wrong with her—an abnormal heart murmur, like she has two hearts instead of one. Spontaneous nose bleeds—a strange shimmering on her face. When Jonny’s father, who’s struggling with some debilitating but undisclosed ailment, sends her off to a new high school and under the care of her aunt Hildie (Alicia Silverstone), Jonny becomes reluctantly embroiled in the serial disappearances of local girls. 
Reeder and cinematographer Sevdije Kastrati (“Vera Dreams of the Sea”) take influence from giallo films and teenage classics like “Heathers” to craft a world that blends the kitsch and the uncanny. Reeder’s films all have an unnatural stiffness, which either works for you or doesn’t. Much like “Knives + Skin,” “Perpetrator” looks at the horror underneath the everyday Americana, at a culture struggling to reconcile a white picket fence ideal with school shooter drills. A series of missing girls (“Girls go missing all the time, what’s the big deal,” says one of the characters) and a possible serial killer on the loose do not faze Johnny at all. When she discovers that all the missing girls hooked up with the same tall jock-boy Kirk (Sasha Kusnetsov), who also happens to be the hapless police officer’s son, Jonny hatches a plan to set herself up to be the killer’s next’s victim and solve the disappearances herself. 
While the teenagers that populate the world of “Perpetrator” are world-weary, the adults are downright goofy. A running joke is the school nurse’s increasingly bandaged face as she tries to halt the effects of aging. The school headmaster (Christopher Lowell) is a kooky and over-the-top disciplinarian who will run around his school screaming, “CODE MASSACRE! DOUBLE BLOOD BATH!” and punish the students if they get mock-killed during the drill. Silverstone, who has yet to have a big comeback moment in the way some of her beloved nineties contemporaries have recently enjoyed, doesn’t get that much to do, unfortunately. While she’s altogether game for the world that Reeder has built, delivering her lines with a campy gravitas usually reserved for the very episodes of “Dynasty,” her role lives in a no-man’s-land of an overhyped cameo. When she is onscreen, you wish for more of her. Either a witch, a vampire, or something entirely different, Aunt Hildie has been around for centuries (she’s been buried alive twice, she declared proudly) and is there to ease Jonny into a world of shape-shifting, transformations, and a power that’s been passed down through generations. Like a “possession in reverse,” this power is undefined and fluid. 
“Perpetrator” is much like that too. The plot is mostly irrelevant, aside from how it allows for Reeder’s ideas and imagery to flow. Oozing, gooey blood and messed-up school uniforms, secrets whispered in high school bathrooms, glitter dresses, and uncanny face masks all meld together to create a film rich in atmosphere and artifice. [B+]
Follow along with our Berlin 2023 coverage here.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
Publisher: Source link

Hasan Minhaj To Host 2023 Independent Spirit Awards

Perhaps it’s the fact the ceremony traditionally takes place in a tent on a beach. Maybe it’s the early afternoon brunch setting where an abundance of spirits are flowing. Or, maybe it’s the irreverent history of the awards themselves, but…

Mar 30, 2023

Did The 2024 Oscars Begin At Sundance?

After making history in 2022 with “CODA,” its first world premiere to win Best Picture, the Sundance Film Festival had a slightly disappointing Oscar tally for 2023. The festival didn’t make the Best Picture cut, but “Living” landed an Adapted…

Mar 29, 2023

Andrea Riseborough Oscars Controversy Prompts Academy Campaign Review

It looked as though the 2023 Oscar season would be the first in over a decade without some sort of scandal in its midst. After the events of the past week, that does not appear to be the case. The…

Mar 28, 2023

‘A Thousand And One’ & ‘The Persian Version’ Top 2023 Sundance Film Festival Awards

After a two-year virtual in-person hiatus, the Sundance Film Festival returned to Park City and that meant an old-fashioned in-person awards ceremony as well. Well, sorta. The post-ceremony party was absent this year (as well as its traditional host), but…

Mar 27, 2023