Much has been said about Netflix original films, but it definitely can’t be denied that they provide some unique and different content. The Perfection is a new example of that, and it is as bonkers and out-there as any project I’ve seen in the past year. The plot can hardly be described without spoiling it, but it starts off as a story of jealousy with Allison Williams (Get Out) playing the former star pupil of an esteemed classical music academy. Ten years back, she had to drop out of her position in order to take care of her dying mother, and she returns only to find she has been replaced by another girl (Logan Browning) who rose to become more popular than she ever was. It seems like an interesting character drama until it turns into a grotesque horror film by the halfway point.
This is one of the weirdest original movies Netflix has released in a while, and I’m not sure whether I say that as a compliment or a reason not to see it. The fact that The Perfection was even greenlit is insane to me, and it shows that both Netflix and the filmmakers were unafraid to take risks, which is a quality to be commended in any movie production. As stated before, I can’t say I’ve seen anything quite like this movie, and that seems to be high praise in and of itself. That being said, whatever message or tone the writers were trying to convey in The Perfection is not clear at all, and the movie is too outrageous and ridiculous to be taken seriously.
The writers split the narrative into four parts given to the audience like chapters of a novel, but to me this story has a distinct first half and second half. For the first thirty minutes of the film, I was invested in the story and was curious to know more about the characters’ past and what drives them. Even when the gruesome horror came I was intrigued as to how the events would unfold, if a bit skeptical of the odd direction it was taking. The second half is where it completely lost me. Once the true motivation of each character is explained late in the narrative, the first half makes little to no sense and doesn’t even seem to connect to the second half at all.
The writers pack many twists and turns into the 90 minute runtime of The Perfection, and all of them are so preposterous that I was left scratching my head instead of understanding the events thrown at me. Director Richard Shepard doesn’t seem to know how to execute a twist. During the major shocks of the movie, he takes the time to quite literally rewind the movie and show the audience how they happened, which insults the viewer’s intelligence. Imagine if after the final major twist in Fight Club, David Fincher had flashed back and scrubbed through every single hint he had dropped as to the true nature of the characters. This would ruin the rewatchability of his classic and even dampen the shock value of the iconic twist.
However, execution aside, The Perfection just doesn’t make sense. Williams’ character does certain drastic things in order to get to the final scenes, and even though they are all delusional and misguided the movie somehow wants the viewers to think that there was logic behind these decisions. If one thinks about it for over a minute they will realize that logic doesn’t seem to be a factor, and this ruins the credibility of any writing decision made throughout the runtime.
Some films get away with throwing rationality out the window because of the fun one will have while watching it, but The Perfection destroys that possibility with its ending. I won’t get into details, but the last act brings up a serious and disturbing subject matter that darkens the entire film further than it already was. It tries to deliver some kind of message regarding this taboo subject, but it instead comes across as confusing and downright offensive. Plus, as I said earlier, the plot gets so ridiculous that it is hard to grasp where the filmmakers wanted the viewer’s minds to be by the final scene.
The Perfection isn’t an awful film by any means, and there is definitely talent involved. Williams gives a great leading performance and tries her best to lead the audience through the more disturbing sequences, and Shepard directs certain scenes in a unique manner which makes me want to see some of his other works. It just can’t seem to get past the baffling plot decisions. Creativity and purpose is stored deep down in the depths of The Perfection, but the water is so dirty that it is near impossible to recognize.
I give The Perfection a C-.