Jun 7, 2019
I absolutely love it when Netflix acquires a movie that played Fantastic Fest, because it means our good friend Andrew Campbell can pull double duty with a single review! Today’s horror movie stars Allison Williams, who I absolutely enjoyed in “Get Out” (Episode #448). Does she deliver the goods in today’s movie? Andrew will let you know in a bit. Speaking of Andrew, be sure to check out his recent reviews for “Rattle The Cage” (Episode #501), “Under the Silver Lake” (Episode #494), “Burning” (Episode #487), and “Border” (Episode #480).
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Take it away, Andrew!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here, back this week with a fun one that just hit Netflix
at the end of May. With this release we see the good and the bad in
how Netflix has transformed the industry. Netflix representatives
at the 2018 Fantastic Fest were so wowed by the film and the
powerful fan response at the midnight World Premiere, that it
acquired worldwide distribution rights about a week later for a
number in the high nine figures. Unfortunately, when Netflix
acquires a film and brands it a “Netflix Original”, this usually
means it gets no theatrical run or a very limited one. This would
have been a fun one for horror enthusiasts to see in a packed
house, but aside from a handful of screenings they weren’t given
much of a chance.
Today’s film is “The Perfection”, written by Eric Charmelo, Nicole Snyder and Richard Shepard, and directed by Shepard. Another film I missed seeing at the festival, I was still able to go into “The Perfection” fairly blind when Netflix began streaming it with no fanfare. Going in blind is really the only the way to see this film, so I’ll just give you the setup in broad strokes. Charlotte (Allison Williams) is a former cello prodigy in her mid-20s, forced to retire several years earlier to care for her dying mother. Charlotte travels to Shanghai where her former teacher Anton (Steven Weber) introduces her to his new protégé, Lizzie (Logan Browning), who has quickly become a famous virtuoso playing to packed theaters the world over. The two women, united by their shared experiences, spark up a quick friendship and... well, that’s all you really ought to know.
The backdrops for this film are exceptional. I couldn’t track down any info on the exact production budget, but I’m certain it was small, and the crew made the most of it. The film moves between austere concert halls to an ornate performance room in Anton’s school. We visit bustling Shanghai before traveling by bus through the Chinese countryside. The shifting scenery helps propel the story forward, but wherever the camera travels, the cinematography retains a crisp, vibrant color palette. The horrors “The Perfection” is about to deliver will be in the warm light of day.
In the role of Charlotte, Allison Williams is just as captivating as she was in 2017’s “Get Out”, where she portrays a character that takes on a momentous shift about three-quarters of the way through the film. Here, she is initially not asked do more than be charming as a somewhat Plain Jane audience surrogate in the provocative world of elite musicianship, but she’s eventually given more opportunity to showcase her range as the story begins to turn. Logan Browning, star of Netflix’s highly acclaimed “Dear White People” series, is intriguing as young Lizzie, who had once idolized Charlotte before taking her place at the school. Always solid Steven Weber has one of the longest IMDb lists you’ll see for an actor his age, but he’ll always be Brian from “Wings” for me and anyone else who grew up watching all those 90s sitcoms. He’s got a fun role in this one and does not disappoint.
What makes “The Perfection” fantastic?
The film has a four-act structure divided by handy title cards – a technique not invented by Quentin Tarantino, but one that I feel he uses to great effect to provide a brief pause before shifting the story. Each chapter in “The Perfection” not only takes the story in a different direction, but fully subverts whatever film subgenre you thought you were watching in the previous act. It’s an unpredictable film that goes to some dark and bizarre places. That’s exactly how it was sold to me going in and, despite knowing this in advance, I was never able to predict what was coming next. It’s not “perfection”, but for genre-film nerds that like elevated B-movie horror, it comes pretty close.
“The Perfection” (2018) is a gorgeously shot, wild psychological horror-thriller, that deeply entertains for all of its brief 90 minutes, while delivering a culturally relevant story. Fans of Allison Williams in “Get Out” (Episode #448) or the human-driven body horror of 2016’s “Raw” (Joseph, when are we getting your review of this one? Your patron demands it!) will enjoy “The Perfection”.
Rotten Tomatoes: 77% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 8.6/10
“The Perfection” (2018) is rated TV-MA and is currently streaming on Netflix. Just do yourself a favor and skip the trailer.
Come back next week and we’ll take a look at another horror film that premiered at last year’s Fantastic Fest. “The Nightshifter” is a Brazilian curiosity about a morgue worker that talks to the dead... and the dead talk back. AMC’s horror streaming service Shudder just released this one at the end of May. Will “The Nightshifter” be yet another reason to invest five bucks a month with Shudder? Let’s find out together.