The Perfection Review: Netflix’s horrific hidden gem that’s riveting, stomach-churning, and a true must-see
Netflix’s newest horror film, The Perfection, is horror at it’s finest and boast two strong leading performances from Allison Williams and Logan Browning as well as a story with twists and turns that churns viewers stomachs in disgust.
What makes The Perfection have such an incredibly intriguing narrative to watch is how it’s constantly changing how viewers perceive the characters and their true intentions. Things seem simple with a former cello prodigy, Charlotte (Williams), seeking out the new star, Elizabeth (Browning), at her former school. When the two meet, they have a strong connection, but end up going down a sinister path that uncovers a horrifying truth about their past. Honestly, when the film started, I wasn’t really sure where it exactly was going to go. However, once things quickly take a sharp horrifying turn and the twists begin, I was instantly hooked.
The way the film initially introduces us to Charlotte and Elizabeth perfectly allows us to get to know them and understand their issues. It’s easy to make assumptions about them and the filmmakers intentionally create some perceived comfortability and assurance through dialogue and small details so that when there’s a twist, it actually kind of hits you. Just when you feel like you have a grip on a character’s intentions or their motivations, a perfectly used flashback comes in to completely blow viewers minds and hook them all over again. Not to mention, the performances from Williams and Browning work incredibly well with their characters’ changing personalities and continually elevate the film with each scene they’re in.
Honestly, these are the two best performances I’ve seen of the year as their chemistry is undeniably great and they’re top-notch every step of the way. Williams truly makes Charlotte a complex character by not making her motivations fully clear at first, but ultimately giving a performance that make her vulnerable, determined, and full of emotion. She definitely knew that viewers might have perceptions of her from her performance in Get Out and channels that performance perfectly to be one of the most eye-catching things in the film. Browning’s performance is also stellar, and she brings a very connective performance through the emotions she brings with Elizabeth. When Elizabeth is sick in the beginning of the movie and when she runs into trouble later in the film, I actually could feel and empathize with everything she’s feeling, and that resonance stems directly from Browning’s performance.
What makes their performances work so well is that they always come off as realistic and grounded and their characters are direct representations of the #MeToo movement. It’s easy to compare The Perfection to films like I Spit on Your Grave, however, it doesn’t rely on being physically grotesque or exploitative to get it’s point across. That’s not to say that the film doesn’t have some moments that will have viewers covering their eyes and if you’re squeamish towards bugs The Perfection could be a tough watch, but its fears are much more psychological.
Instead of being exploitative with its connections to issues in film and even sports (I only don’t want to be specific because it spoils a major plot development), the film creates moments that are treated more realistically and genuine. This actually creates more effective uneasy feelings and there’s a sequence in the film’s final act that made my stomach churn in disgust. It’s honestly impressive to see such a relevant issue be tackled so effectively as well as the idea of “The Perfection” being such a strong part of the story and, especially for women, The Perfection can definitely be an empowering film to watch.
Now, I will say that some have seen this film as problematic because of its connections to the #MeToo movement and that it’s a part of a sub-genre that’s always considered to be exploitive. There’re parts of this argument that I can understand, however, I’d like to make a case for why that might not be true for The Perfection. There’s been some criticism toward the film’s male perspective, specifically towards director/writer Richard Shepard, as these kinds of movies are generally from a male perspective and many see this perspective as the central issue in creating problematic and exploitative material with its female leads.
Personally, I don’t feel that way with The Perfection as Shepard always treats Charlotte and Elizabeth as real people and the more graphic parts of the narrative are just small parts and are left up to the imagination of the viewers rather than just show all the carnage directly. I don’t doubt that the film maybe could’ve used some more female perspective, considering how heavily the film’s later plot points are tied to the events of the #MeToo movement and how the ending image could delve into the explicit graphicness many films get criticized for. However, like I’ve been saying, everyone involved has crafted a story that makes you legitimately feel something and there’s clearly a vision to create a narrative that’s connective and relevant
Let’s face it, when you have an incredibly visceral reaction to a film while you’re watching it, regardless if it’s good or bad, it shows you how special it is. The Perfection does that and so much more with entertaining twists and turns, award-worthy performances from Williams and Browning, and a hidden idea that will have your stomach turning because of how real it feels. Whether or not you feel that its connections to the #MeToo movement are problematic, it’s hard to deny that The Perfection is Netflix’s best film to date.