Perpetrator (2023) Ending Explained – Who is the person behind the mask?

Perpetrator Plot Summary

Currently streaming on Shudder is Perpetrator, a  bizarre new horror movie about a young woman named Jonny Baptiste who begins to develop unusual abilities on her 18th birthday.

Jonny has more to worry about than her new powers, however. After moving to a new area to live with her Aunt Hildie, she discovers teenage girls have been going missing around the neighbourhood. 

As the story plays out, we discover these girls have been abducted by somebody wearing a mask. During the film, Jonny is also taken by this ‘perpetrator.’

Does Jonny manage to escape the abductor’s clutches? Who is the person beneath the mask? Let’s take a closer look at the movie.

Why does Jonny gain new abilities?

At the beginning of the film, Jonny is living with somebody we initially believe to be her father. She believes this too but after she experiences nose bleeds and other unexplained happenings, her father sends her to live with her Aunt Hildie. 

It turns out that Jonny has been sent to live with her aunt for a reason. Hildie has knowledge about the unusual things that have been happening to Jonny and is able to explain what has been happening to her. 

Jonny discovers that she is developing powers that are hereditary in nature. Her aunt, mother and father also share these powers, which include the ability to morph into somebody else. Hildie refers to Jonny’s transformation, which escalates on her 18th birthday, as “forevering.”

These powers have something to do with an empathy for the cosmos, a concept that is never fully explained in the film. 

Jonny begins to come to terms with her new abilities while attending a new school. During her first day here, she discovers some of the student girls have been declared missing. 

What happened to the missing students?

According to Jonny’s new friend Elektra, the disappearance of the students has something to do with a teenage boy named Kirk, who just so happens to be the son of a police officer named Stirling whom Jonny previously encountered while she was engaged in a robbery.

Jonny and Elektra confront Kirk about the disappearances but he swears he has nothing to do with them. He tells the girls it is a coincidence that he was involved with the missing students right before they vanished and thinks somebody is framing him. 

It’s clear that somebody has abducted the students but the identity of the ‘perpetrator’ is initially unknown. Kirk is a suspect and so too is Principal Burke who likes to play a game with his students called ‘Prisoner.’ Burke even wears a mask during the game, which involves him ‘fake’ shooting anybody he finds during the hide-and-seek-alike activity. 

Burke is obsessed with his image, as is Marcy, who also works at the school. They have both had adjustments made to their face, which we initially assume to be through some form of plastic surgery. 

How do we discover the identity of the perpetrator?

After being offered a ride home by Officer Sterling, Jonny is knocked unconscious by somebody from the back of his police car. At this point, we realize that Sterling is working for the perpetrator, the masked man who hit Jonny over the head.

When Jonny regains consciousness, she is disturbed to discover the mask-wearing creep has injected a tube into her body which feeds back into a hole in his body. 

Using her powers, she starts to mimic the masked man. This freaks him out so he knocks her unconscious again. When she comes to, she finds herself in a room with the abducted students. One of the girls, Aviva, tells Jonny they are being “stripped for parts” by the perpetrator. 

It’s at this point that the identity of the kidnapper becomes clear. It’s not revealed who he is at this point but as we know Principal Burke is getting his facial improvements from somewhere, it can be assumed that he is the man extracting parts from the girls. 

This theory is proven correct later in the movie. After Jonny uses her powers to escape from captivity with the other girls, it is revealed that Burke is the masked man when we see he has a fleshy hole in his chest (the hole in which the surgical tube was inserted during his connection to Jonny). 

How does the film end?

Before the identity of the perpetrator is revealed, Aunt Hilde turns up in a van to drive Jonny and the girls to safety. She isn’t alone as seated next to her in the vehicle is Jonny’s mom, who had supposedly been absent from her daughter’s life for many years. As it turns out, she hadn’t been absent at all, as she had morphed into the man that Jonny thought was her dad! Using her strong sense of smell, she was able to track her daughter’s location. 

Following a scene at the school, Jonny’s mom kidnaps Burke and puts him in the van. A fight commences between him and Jonny, with the girl gaining the upper hand when she literally rips his heart out of his chest. 

As the film draws to a close, we switch to a dinner party at Aunt Hildie’s house. During the final moments, we see that Jonny has undergone a physical transformation – she is developing fangs! Could she be a vampire? If so, that would explain her mother’s heightened senses and ability to change appearance. It would also explain Hildie’s ageless appearance as there are clues in the film that she is a lot older than she actually appears.

Ultimately, we are left with more questions than answers after the film’s ending. We know Burke was abducting girls to retain his handsome looks and that Marcy was probably tied into this too. But we don’t know how he had the ability to use the girl’s blood and body parts to enhance his appearance. We don’t know much about the source of Jonny’s transformation either or what she had truly become at the end of the film.

If you have seen the film and have ideas of your own about the film’s weird plotting and intriguing ending, let us know by leaving us a comment below. 


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