There’s been a fair amount of hype surrounding one of Netflix’s latest original offerings, The Perfection, which is a twisty horror-thriller from Richard Shepard. There was plenty of chatter on social media regarding it’s wacky plot and how it was best to go into it blind. After all the commotion, The Perfection does live up to its reputation for craziness, but to a severe fault.
The Perfection is directed by Richard Shepard, whose credits include 2013’s Dom Hemingway and a host of TV shows. Not being familiar with his previous efforts, I was struck by how safe and somewhat bland his direction was considering the film’s strange story. He breaks the movie up into chapters, a premise that works initially but proves limiting later in the film. He never presents the story with any spark or sense of style, and overall I was disappointed with how simply whelming the direction was. There is some striking cinematography at work here, but I felt this movie could have flowed better and been more effective under a more creative hand. As it stands, the presentation left me pretty cold.
Now, I won’t divulge any story spoilers here because this film really does rely entirely on twists to work. The film, in broad terms, follows two cellists who uncover dark secrets that change their lives. The overall plot isn’t wholly original, but it does take some truly disturbing and shocking turns along the way, which is really all that saves this plot from mediocrity. The twists and gonzo plot choices make for pretty exciting viewing in the moment, but don’t really hold up upon further reflection. Worst of all, though, is how brutally rushed the final act is. Revelations and fallout all happen too quickly, and then the film is over before you have time to process them. It’s disorienting to say the least, and while the ending is haunting, the plot never feels completely there.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Performances are somewhat of a mixed bag here. Allison Williams plays her character very straight, to pretty outstanding effect. I found Logan Browning to be not as convincing, though she is tasked with a more difficult role for reasons I can’t get into here. Characters are very often not as they seem in this story, and by the end it becomes a bit easier to see twists and heel turns before they happen. The cast does fine work with what they’re given, but only the two leads mentioned above have any real dimension or development, which is much more a symptom of the script than of their work.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Likewise, the sound engineers do some great work here as well. The use of cello music to score much of the action is appropriate to the plot and the action. There are also some choices made with sound design and mixes that I really enjoyed, and which elevated otherwise bland scenes. Plenty of good work here.
The special effects and makeup are great here, with some really nasty stuff having the intended effects on the audience. I won’t say much more than that, but if you have a weak stomach, some parts of this film may prove upsetting to you. Kudos to the effects, makeup, and design teams.
It isn’t difficult to see why The Perfection garnered the level of anticipation that it did in many circles. It makes some truly strange and over-the-top narrative decisions, with an incredibly bold and harrowing ending to boot. But it’s the journey in the film’s second half that really drags it down. Predictable plot beats and revelations, coupled with an incredibly rushed, poorly edited, and therefore confusing climax tarnish what could have been one of the more interesting horror-thriller entries of the year. As a result, The Perfection arrives very imperfect, but likely with enough impact to be worth a watch.