The Perfection assessment: Netflix’s erotic horror is more and more bonkers

The Perfection swings for the fences. The gonzo horror movie-cum-erotic thriller, directed by Richard Shepard (The Matador, Dom Hemingway) and starring Allison Williams and Logan Browning as cellists skilled on the identical conservatory, is among the crazier options to hit Netflix because the streaming large expands its unique content material wheelhouse.
Charlotte (Williams) was poised for stardom till her mom took in poor health, forcing her to vacate a spot on the prestigious Bachoff Academy of Music. When her mom passes away, Charlotte reaches out to her former mentors on the Academy, Anton (Steven Weber) and Paloma Bachoff (Alaina Huffman), to get again into their good graces. Whereas attending the choice ceremony for a brand new pupil for the college, she meets Lizzie (Browning), the Bachoffs’ new star pupil, and the 2 instantly hit it off.
You’re proper to sense a Single White Feminine angle: Lizzie has taken Charlotte’s place, and Charlotte desires it again, or not less than to sabotage Lizzie badly sufficient that neither of them can possess the highlight. As the 2 bond — they go clubbing and sleep collectively, and Lizzie invitations Charlotte on her journey by means of rural China — the sense that one thing is off is pervasive. Charlotte appears at Lizzie the way in which a tiger appears at its prey, and although there’s extra to Lizzie than meets the attention (her first actual dialog with Charlotte covers infidelity and kinks), there’s solely a lot she will actually predict.

Charlotte (Williams) and Lizzie (Browning) in shut quarters.Netflix

So it goes, too, for the viewers. The Perfection begins as an erotic thriller earlier than morphing into one thing else, and to present away something that follows can be to rob from the film’s sole pleasure. Although Williams is excellent, taking full benefit of the preconceptions anybody who watched Women or Get Out can have about her character, it’s not sufficient to masks the truth that The Perfection is lean on substance.
[Ed. note: Light spoilers for The Perfection follow.]
The themes that the movie offers with — the strain placed on younger girls to realize, sure, perfection, and the way in which societal constructions can support and abet their abuse — are topical. Nonetheless, The Perfection is somewhat too skinny for them to really feel earned, notably when the specter of sexual abuse goes from implicit to specific and hangs over the movie like Damocles’ sword. The Perfection stumbles in its makes an attempt at changing into an “points film” (for lack of a greater time period) as a result of it doesn’t have the time to correctly discover that territory; the movie appears extra attention-grabbing in being a horror thriller, which, unsurprisingly, is when it excels.
Shepard is great at ramping up rigidity, and Browning acquits herself marvelously as this movie’s scream queen. The movie’s grosser moments — bugs are concerned, as are a cleaver and extra stitches than you’ve ever seen outdoors of a medical drama — are horrific, and Shepard doesn’t draw back from gore. Anybody on the lookout for a shock want look no additional; The Perfection is loaded with the sorts of set items that ought to fulfill any horror fanatic.

Lizzie (Browning) and Charlotte (Williams) carry out a cello duet.Netflix

The issue is that, maybe dissatisfied with simply splatter, Shepard tries to mine each different doable avenue for shock, too. It results in an unevenness in tone, and a barely bitter style within the mouth as soon as the film is over. The movie’s remedy of sexual abuse and rape borders on exploitative, and The Perfection by no means recovers from the reveal.
The movie’s B-movie horror spirit contradicts the bigger points that the story tries to deal with. Grindhouse isn’t mutually unique with grace, however they don’t usually simply mesh. Shepard’s stylistic thrives, whereas enjoyable, don’t assist the case, as his penchant for actually rewinding occasions feels maybe too flip relating to the story finally being advised.
The great factor is that The Perfection is simply gonzo sufficient to render its viewers blind to a few of its greater flaws. It’s enjoyable (if additionally somewhat anxiety-inducing) right through, relentless in maintaining the viewers on its toes and attempting to defy and subvert expectations and style tropes. And it nonetheless feels good when, ultimately, the villain receives their comeuppance.

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