The Perpetrators – BFI Flare 2023

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer and Director: Richard Squires

Richard Squires’ satirical short film, The Perpetrators, uses animation and a documentary style to recreate the style of 1970s and 80s information warning films aimed at children. Taking long-lasting notions that associate homosexuality with predatory behaviour towards children, the pseudo-seriousness of this mini film charts the different kind of threat that gay men have falsely been supposed to pose from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Interspersed with fear-driven stories of sinister men narrated by children, Squires has important points to make about the longevity of such mis-associations and the ways in which each generation reinvents the myths and starts to propagate them. From the ‘gender-transgressing’ attacker in the 1840s through the ‘psychopath’ from 1900 committing murder to quell his homosexual desire, the ‘pansy’ of the 1920s to the sex deviant trope from the 1950s onwards, in just 14-minutes, The Perpetrators has a stark message about the continuation of these ideas today.

The film is a compete experience, never breaking focus on shifting tone to over-emphasise how offensive and ludicrous these persistent assertions have been. Instead, Squires holds fast to the warning film style, using the blending of live action and animation to subtly underline the message of this Short, an approach that woks incredibly effectively. How the testimony of the children fits is less worked through, but it certainly creates the overtone of fear that Squires is aiming for.

Elroy Simmons’ animation is excellent, an exaggerated Scooby Doo parade of villainous-looking men who chase the same full-haired young boy around parks, trying to catch him for whatever nefarious purpose they have in mind. The blending of drab reality with 70s/80s features including an old television set and a seedy-looking room, only adds to the effect. The Perpetrators manages to say a great deal in its short running time and makes an important statement about the continual persecution of men based only on their sexuality.

LMFYFF Productions presentsThe Perpetrators at BFI Flare on 19 & 25 March 2023.

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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