Released: 24th May
Seen: 11th June
The genre of Horror comes with many subgenres, a lot of flavours that keep it interesting. The genre itself is so extraordinary and wild that it can go from the mental destruction caused by a Psychological horror to the elaborate gore of a slasher, to the homemade hell of Found Footage. Every subgenre has its own little quirks and tricks, its own landmark films and dedicated fan base. Heck, even fans of the horror genre have subgenres they love and ones they loathe. I, for example, am a big fan of the fun cheesy slashers but I always get irritated by found footage films. So, what sub-genre would I put a movie like The Perfection into? Is “HOLY SHIT” a subgenre? Because I believe I want to make it a subgenre.
The Perfection follows Charlotte (Allison Williams), a cello virtuoso who has spent over a decade caring for her terminally ill mother. When her mother passes away, Charlotte decides to reconnect with the head of the music school that she used to be a part of. The headmaster, Anton (Steven Weber) invites her to come along with him and his protégé Lizzie (Logan Browning) to try and find new talent. Charlotte takes an immediate liking to Lizzie that quickly turns into a romantic tryst, the two even ending up in bed together. After a night together, Lizzie and Charlotte head off for a trip through the rural areas of China but Lizzie isn’t feeling well, seemingly still dealing with the after-effects of a hangover. However, once Lizzie starts throwing up maggots and having a large number of bugs burst out of her skin, it’s clear that things are a lot more intense than they seem… this, by the way, happens at the 40 minute mark of this 90 minute film, and it gets so much more insane from there.
This film doesn’t just do plot twists, it does dramatic hairpin turns at 200 kilometres per hour without ever bothering to apply the brake. Just when you settle in and think “Oh, this is a body horror, I’m ready to have my stomach turn into knots at the sight of what they’re going to put this character through in the middle of nowhere” the film screams “PSYCHE” and reveals something truly shocking, swiftly changes subgenre and then goes along it’s merry way while whistling a jaunty tune and just as you catch up with it, it yells “PSYCHE” again and goes off in a direction you could never guess in your wildest dreams… it will do this at least 4 times, and every time it slapped me in the face I looked the film in the eye and said “Please, mother, may I have another” because every twist was so gloriously nuts and shocking that I wanted to know if it was going to stick the landing. For the record, it stuck that landing with both feet and did a goddamn bow at the end because it just did something batshit, survived and knows that it probably shouldn’t have worked as well as it did.
In order to make the genuine insanity work, it helps that every single one of the lead actors absolutely owns every scene and manages to shift their character motivations on a dime while making it feel natural. A character can go from a goody-two-shoes to doing the most evil thing you’ve ever witnessed to a hero trying to save someone to a victim and every single one of these dramatic twists works. All three of our leads just carry the film effortlessly, I almost forget that there’s a supporting cast and really there didn’t need to be since their roles were “Make the rape threat more disturbing” and “Woman who is there”. Oh, right, so there’s a heavy threat and talk of rape in this film and while they never show it, if even the threat of it is too much for you then feel free to move on from this one.
The horror takes a little while to get to the forefront but when it does, we go through everything. Body horror, home invasion, torture porn, rape-revenge, it’s all there and it all fits shockingly well. There were several moments where I just leaned back in my second-hand computer chair and smiled knowingly because I thought I had the film figured out, then the film rewound itself while laughing at me going “You don’t know a damn thing” and I applauded heartily while it did that. Be prepared, for a 90 minute film, this one packs in so much insanity that you might need to watch it in portions… luckily it’s one of those films that has large cards pop up to signify the act breaks so there’s space to do that, but it’s worth the attempt at watching because it’s going to horrify you in ways you probably don’t expect and it’s going to keep switching gears and making it work. That’s the magical thing, it does all these dark twists and turns that could throw it off at any point, but it doesn’t. It works, every twist works in ways that I just couldn’t believe. Normal movies only have one twist and might mess it up anyway, this movie had 4 or 5 of them and by the end, I went “Yeah, that’s the only way to get to this point” and thanked the movie again for hurting me.
Now, sadly The Perfection isn’t perfect. There are some moments where the dialogue feels off and it almost feels like it takes too long to get to that first brutal twist, possibly because we have to have a two-minute scene of Allison screaming “Stop the bus” and then there are the CGI gore effects that just never look right. I swear, I will never understand why anyone used CGI gore when there are companies who will gladly make you an arm that’ll explode and have bugs come out of it or even make an arm you can run a knife through. Luckily they’re quick and if you’re not used to good practical gore effects they won’t bother you, but I’m bothered that we’ve basically allowed the entire practical gore effects industry to vanish because someone worked out how to make splashes of red on a computer.
The Perfection, while imperfect, is a jaw-dropping horror extravaganza that starts at an 8 and finds a way to keep going up. Filled with so many twists and turns that I could cover it in salt and sell it as a pretzel, just go into it as blind as you can and hang on tight. It’s certainly not one for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, but if you like your horror films to actually horrify you then here’s something that’s going to grab you by the hand and slam you into a wall and you’re going to be happier for it.