The Perfection is an example of a film I knew nothing about heading in, had modest expectations of, and was ultimately surprised by.
After her breakthrough performance in Jordan Peele’s film Get Out, I became interested in actor Allison Williams. She’s talented enough she could be a solid hand in about any role she is in, and she’s attractive enough that she will likely be cast in a lot of them (it’s a vain industry, after all). To my surprise, when I searched through her filmography, I discovered her resume was bereft of very many options to choose from. As far as horror fare was concerned, it more-or-less came down to M3gan, Get Out, and this film.
I had stumbled across this film at least a dozen times while searching through Netflix, always intrigued by her appearance in the film, always deterred by my own disinterest when I read the film’s description.
I looked at it as a throwaway, cheap film released without any fanfare to it. It happens a lot. Instances where you will find a more known actor released in a lesser known film, with the film unceremoniously dropped someplace to bank off their newfound success (the leading lady of the new Scream movies has a new film on Tubi, for example). I am a fairly devout horror fan, and I would like to think I do a fairly good job at keeping my finger on the pulse of what is relevant. I trust myself, and so, that means if I didn’t know about it, it was likely for a reason. Outliers are undiscovered gems and are an always welcome thing to happen.
Directed by Richard Shepard (who I had never heard of until now, but do, technically, own a copy of his film Oxygen on DVD), The Perfection also stars Logan Browning and Steven Weber.
The concept of The Perfection is interesting to say the least. It is interesting enough that I almost don’t want to tell you anything about it as a way to keep you in the dark about it. Let’s say that it is a dark psychological thriller that sees Allison Williams reenter the lives of her school’s headmaster and meet a young cellist with a bright future in music ahead of her. Anything else beyond that, I feel would unveil too much about the film.
The Perfection is a topsy-turvy type of film.
Early on, I was brought in by a certain elegance the film had. The cinematography was on-point, the dynamic between Allison Williams and Logan Browning was good and, dare I say, sexy. Then, at about half an hour in, it derails and becomes an entirely different film than what I originally expected. The thing is though, it was a good surprise – it caught my attention and was enough to make me stop the film and wait until my wife came home to watch it with her.
To my surprise, the abrupt twist of fate that occurs early on the film isn’t the only instance where the film is turned on its head. In fact, it’s kind of The Perfection’s thing, so to speak.
By the end, I am not certain whether I feel it is one too many or not, but I will say I was gripped from start to finish by the finish, and that matters a lot.
The performances are compelling through and through, but, after a point, we do find ourselves making a tonally uneven shift from being a conventional thriller film to an over-the-top (camp, even) melodrama that requires a large suspension of disbelief from whoever’s watching it. It’s a film that will at first grip you, shock you, then, make you laugh a little bit at its absurdity – and I was here for that.
The eccentricity of The Perfection is a double-edged sword. It both muddles the waters too much for the capable cast of characters to reach their fullest potential, but it also made the film a memorable outing for everybody involved. It isn’t what I feared it’d be (a competent, forgettable film), but, rather, what I hoped, a modest, undiscovered gem that I find myself recommending to you.
It isn’t without its faults and frivolity, but it kept me engaged by its audaciousness, and was bolstered by skillful performances and an admirable visual flare (I particularly liked the closing shot of the film, which I felt was very distinct).