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Trailer Watch: Jennifer Reeder’s Perpetrator

Jennifer Reeder’s follow-up as a writer-director to her 2019 feature debut Knives and Skin, the first trailer arrives today for Perpetrator. The film had its world premiere at this year’s Berlinale before having its North American premiere at Tribeca Festival earlier this summer.

In my interview with Reeder ahead of Berlinale ’23, I briefly elaborate on the film’s premise:

Precocious 17-year-old Jonny (Kiah McKirnan) has a no-frills home life with her deadbeat father, supported by her after school hustle as a petty thief. Her mother has long been out of the picture, only exacerbating her feeling of isolation when she begins to undergo a supernatural transformation. Understanding that he’s well out of his depth, Jonny’s father sends her off to live with Hildie (Alicia Silverstone), a relative who has decades of experience with this fraught transitional period. Forced to attend a stuffy private school while keeping her newfound abilities under wraps, Jonny nonetheless enmeshes herself in an ongoing investigation involving missing girls from her high school. It’s not long until she’s convinced that her fledgeling shapeshifting abilities and the bewitched blood that flows through her veins just might be the key to their collective survival.

“I have no shame saying that on some level, I’ve kind of been making the same film over and over again,”  Reeder went on to tell me about her filmic oeuvre, which began with her MFA thesis project, The Adventures of White Trash Girl. “I keep thinking about how important it was at that point in my life to make a very iconic character whose body empowered her, which in turn empowered me. Writing Perpetrator and feeling like, ‘I can’t wait to see this girl’s magic erupt out of her blood,’ felt very selfishly empowering to me as a person. I wanted to unleash her onto the world for audiences to feel connected to—and to feel entertained, but also empowered and inspired by.”

Perpetrator will open in select theaters and stream exclusively on Shudder/AMC+ on September 1.

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