The Perfection is far from it, but it’s weird and twisty enough to be another horror hit on Netflix.
I liked The Perfection almost in spite of itself, and in spite of all the bizarre things it does that’ll doubtlessly persuade plenty of people to hate it. I liked it in spite of it’s Velvet Buzzsaw-style pretentiousness and it’s wild oscillations between different genres, tones, and styles. I liked it in spite of its needlessly overcomplicated plot and its audacious flourishes, which never work quite as well as they’re supposed to. I liked it in spite of its shlocky B-movie sensibilities rubbing up awkwardly against its attempts at profundity. And to be honest, I don’t even know why.
In The Perfection, Allison Williams, who was the walking embodiment of white privilege in Get Out and mostly provides the same shtick here, plays a childhood cellist who was forced to abandon her prestigious musical education and career to nurse her ailing mother. Years later, she heads to Shanghai and reconnects with her mentors Anton (Steven Weber) and Paloma (Alaina Huffman), and meets the star pupil, Elizabeth (Logan Browning), who has assumed her position in the academy. You might think you know where this is going — you almost certainly don’t.
Writer-director Richard Shepard absolutely delights in the plot’s sudden lurches back and forth. with the increasingly far-fetched reveals building to a silly and bloody crescendo that probably won’t stand up to any scrutiny. But the journey to get there — which rewinds itself at two separate points, to add greater clarity to events — is all the fun of The Perfection; it’s a twisty, turny experience that doesn’t always make sense but is never boring.
Some genuinely effective sequences — a horrifying ordeal on a bus being a major highlight — and some enjoyably heightened performances help to knit the devious overarching plan together, and while not all of it convinces, and some of it might just be a bit too far for some viewers, it could never be said that The Perfection plays things safe. So if the film doesn’t live up to its title, at the very least it has fun trying.