Through numerous plot twists and some blood-chilling tricks, “The Perfection” provides enough reason to believe its chain of events – even, when its core is rather wobbly.
Michelle (Allison Williams) has spent years in a secluded house, taking care of her dying mother. Once the mother passes away, Michelle decides to take a second chance at her old life of a talented cello player. When she gets in touch with her former teacher Anton (Steven Webber), she realises he’d found a new protege, Lizzie (Logan Browning). Michelle will stop at nothing to get that old position back.
What does it take to direct a bonafide revenge movie?
Without a slightest doubt – a protagonist that the audience wants to root for. Every classic in this sub-genre proved it. Whether that was a spaghetti western, Quentin Tarantino’s “Django: Unchained”, a horror like “I Spit On Your Grave” or an indie drama “Blue Ruin”, each and every one of these titles had a backbone built of a strong, charismatic lead.
But in order to make such character work for the audience, there has to be a reason to believe her or him. A relatable trauma, a justified act of self-righteousness or even a puppy as “John Wick” proves.
In “The Perfection”, there are two protagonists, whose reasons are believable yet sometimes quite silly.
The first “part-time” employed lead is Michelle. A former musician and once a protege of a renowned teacher Anton. At the moments she’s introduced to the audience, Michelle’s lost and determined to get her old life back. Obviously, at all costs.
Played by Allison Williams, Michelle seeps with deeply hidden rage that silently resides inside only to torpedo at the right people and at the right time. It’s an effective work of Williams, who is used to finding cunning ways to portray mentally unstable characters (she displayed such skill in Oscar-winning “Get Out”).
In “The Perfection”, she carries the weight of being a protagonist when in the spotlight, as well as finds a sweet spot in the shadow of her co-star, Logan Browning. Because once the first big plot twist arrives (which lands after a tremendous horror-like build-up), it’s Lizzie whom we are ordered to follow.
There is a smart way of weaving these two stories together. Part of the fun that derives from watching “The Perfection” derives from the swift swaps of positions between Lizzie and Michelle. Richard Shepard, the director of Netflix’s “The Perfection”, knows quite well the strings to pull in order to make the audience gasp.
The multiple plot twists are weaved with a deeply unnerving trauma too but that’s where ‘The Perfection” climbs a mountain without proper equipment. Shepard leans towards a drama (with some seriously deranged and disgusting topics mentioned between the lines), but never makes the so-needed confidence, therefore only scratches the surface instead of crushing the audience emotionally. As a consequence, “The Perfection” is a bonkers ride, but makes no real impact after the film ends.
When it comes to technical aspects, “The Perfection” bounces from absorbing, riveting moments to messier, less convincing pieces. A particularly phenomenal one is a bus ride in Southern Asia, when Lizzie gets extremely sick. The nightmare is real, with worms-filled vomits and bugs crawling out from under. If you ever thought backpacking is fun, watch this scene alone.
On the other side of the fence, there is an unspeakably cheesy scene when Lizzie and Michelle get “sexy” when judging a competition for young musicians. It’s corny as hell, like a face slap that reminded me “don’t forget, it’s a Netflix Original“.
Shepard never quite finds an equilibrium, leaving “The Perfection” far from actual perfection. As a story about empowering women, it could work only for strangers to the real gems in that category. As a horror, it delivers the thrills and a general sense of dread, but Shepard consumes much time on building the first part. The combination of both is, therefore, a pleasant surprise but nothing too ambitious – the exact type of slightly better Netflix Original.
The Perfection (2019)
Dir. Richard Shepard
Hate Grade: 4/10