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Review: ‘The Parish’ (2021) – Classic Creepy Feels

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Review: 'The Parish' (2021) - Classic Creepy Feels

There’s truly something to be said about the old standbys. Sure, the world’s filled with newfangled this, and ultra-morden that- but there is always value in the things we return to. We could all be space-travelers colonizing a far-off galaxy, and whatever form food is in by then, I bet there’s still going to be cheeseburger-flavored. And in spite of decades of radical advancements in video game technology, Monopoly will probably always stay on store shelves. Why? Because some things are so good that they’ll always be good.

With Tripod Productions’ release of Parish, we also learn that some things are so scary that they’ll always be scary.

One of those scary things is nuns. Nuns are scary. It’s 2021, and Parish is a movie where nuns are still scary. Is it the outfit? The quiet servitude? Because we’ve seen time and time again that Nun-ness is a vocation that lends itself to horror. The Conjuring 2 introduced us to Valak, the Nun so scary she got her own spin-off with the aptly-titled The Nun. But James Wan wasn’t the first to make nuns scary. There was Haxan, The Devils, The Exorcist III. Hell (oops), even The Blues Brothers had a scary nun. There is something undeniable about it. Nuns creep us all right the heck out.

Big, silent, lumbering oafs are pretty damn scary too. How many of your favorite slashers are hulking behemoth who never utter word one? Michael, Jason, Victor Crowley, the guy from Hush (okay, so the protagonist is deaf in that one, so maybe he’s not silent). So many times we’ve seen the strong, silent type destroy everything. So when the Janitor in Parish shows up, we’re already on our toes.

The Parish 2021 Bloody

Mostly, though, this is a story about a grieving woman and her school-age daughter. There are some striking dream sequences to show us just what they’re missing, too. Liz and her daughter Audrey are mourning the loss of the third member of their family: husband, father and veteran of foreign war. Luckily for us, this is a horror movie, so there are plenty of graphic flashbacks to show us how the patriarch was taken from his family.

So not only are Liz and Audrey on unstable emotional grounds, but also they’ve just moved. This is a brilliant move, and one that puts The Parish alongside scores of other classic horror movies. Scary nuns might only be topped in frequency by “a big move” in horror movies. So many goddamn movies start with the family unboxing their belongings in a new house. It’ll be tough, but if they can just pull through, they’ll be sure for a better tomorrow. These are classic horror trappings, and for good reason. The trope is a trope because it works. Let’s explore the dynamic of a family going through a big move: First, there’s all the added pressure on the parents. DOUBLY so for Liz, because she has recently become a single parent. Usually, the “big move” comes from some sort of financial upending. Oftentimes, the adults have sunk everything into this new house. Maybe they’ve had to downsize, maybe the new house is some sort of last-ditch attempt at keeping the family unit whole. Either way, there is a lot of horror that’s rooted in this same desparation.

Add to that the anxieties of starting class in a new school, and you’ve got a formula for some mother-daughter terror. Because not everything is as it seems in Audrey’s new school. The clergy members of the titular parish are a real mixed bag, and only some of them are devoted to uplifting the kids.

The movie’s a real mystery, a genuine head-scratcher up til the third act. The puzzle pieces are all right there, but it takes almost the whole runtime for the pieces to fall into place. With some big-time revelations and a huge heroic standoff, the end of this flick is easily its strongest point. The movie’s solid all the way through, but holy moly does it stick the landing.

Check out The Parish when it’s released on VOD March 16, 2021.

The Parish 2021 Poster

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