Despite its brutally predictable ending, the Australian short zombie film “Perished” is a grueling and terrifying horror entry. Once again, a storyteller has the idea to feature less zombie carnage and explore the minutiae of survival where every little step dictates whether you live or die by tooth and nail of the walking dead.
Wayne S. Davies gives a great performance as a man driven to the brink of desperation when the world begins crumbling around him thanks to a zombie apocalypse. After barely escaping the undead clutches of his wife, he retreats to his backyard tool shed by the skin of his teeth, and hides out from the dead. The problem there is, while he’s perfectly hidden, the dead have invaded his back yard, and he only has five cans of perishables, and a limited supply of water. Eventually a week’s worth of food, disappears, and immediate panic takes over the character as he realizes he’s growing hungry and thirsty.
“Perished” isn’t just about survival, but asks us how far we’d go to ensure our own survival. We never really know for sure how far we’ll be willing to go to see another day, but when faced with the option of living and dying, we’ll choose living. Even if we have to reduce ourselves to savage monsters. Though “Perished” is only fifteen minutes in length, its narrative is complete and absolutely claustrophobic. Not only do we feel this man’s desperation to live, but we can sense he’s starving, and will claw through anyone for a scrap of food. There’s even a moment where he watches a zombie eating a corpse, and begins to envy its ability to eat.
Directors Stefan A. Radanovich and Aaron McCann really do convey this struggle within such a short window, suggesting more than telling. We know these are the walking dead, and we know the world is in a hole. Now it’s become a land where only the fittest survive, and those that live to see tomorrow will have done whatever they can to see the sun rise. “Perished” is hobbled though by its final scene that I saw coming miles away, that said it’s a wonderful short zombie film, and one I would have loved to see more of.