Netflix has made some pretty bad horror movies recently. “Bird Box.” “Velvet Buzzsaw.” “The Silence.” These were all one dimensional card castles that fell extremely flat for a myriad of reasons. They lacked quality scripts, ideas, performances and visuals, for starters.
So, it was with very low expectations that I decided to watch Netflix’s new original — “The Perfection.” What I watched managed to blow far past my low expectations and enthrall me within moments. “The Perfection” was a wonderful homage to ‘70s and ‘80s horror-thrillers that had a creative, original idea to expand upon.
The movie stars Allison Williams (“Girls,” “Get Out”) and Logan Browning (“Dear White People,” ”Hit the Floor”) as cello prodigies who studied under the same mentor. Williams plays Charlotte, a woman who had to give up her cello studies to take care of her ailing mother who has now passed. Browning is her gifted replacement at the prestigious Bachoff music school, who has risen to a certain level of notoriety.
What first presents itself as a simple tale of jealousy taken to the extreme, grabs the viewer for an intense unrelenting ride through much more.
The film was directed by Richard Shepard, who co-wrote the script with Nicole Snyder and Eric C. Charmelo. The script is expertly crafted, weaving multiple breeds of horror film together into an intriguing hybrid. It is a stalker saga, a disease thriller, a home invasion and a revenge fever dream. It accomplishes all of this effectively through Shepard’s careful directing. The writing is creative and exploratory, but remains thoughtful and cogent.
The unsettling nature of the movie is scored perfectly with eerie strings and beats that keep you on edge. There are also some great moments of overlap where the track from one shot is left to play as different moments are interspersed through the scene.
Williams and Browning give excellent layered performances. These characters are harboring deep trauma and the two actresses express this in subtleties as much as in moments of blatant hysteria. Each convincingly commits to the violence and more outlandish moments in the plot.
It was a strikingly different role than anything I had seen Browning do before. Williams managed to recreate much of the greatness that she displayed previously in Jordan Peele’s “Get Out.” I hope to see her in many more horror films. Steven Weber (“The Shining,” “Single White Female”) also gave a strong performance as the demanding mentor.
This movie is not for the faint of heart. It leans heavily into the gore and squeamish shock factor. I handle most gory things pretty well, but was disturbed by the violent sequence in the penultimate scene of the film.
It is the visual elements of this film that take it to the next level. The cinematographer Vanja Cernjul creates a bold aesthetic with rich colors and unconventional camera angles. While the gore leaves a lasting impression, it is the inventive shots of conversations and cello playing that fill the movie with tension and alarm.
Despite its best efforts to create a feminist statement, the movie’s plot is just out of the realm of believability for the message to really hit home. The plot can’t be held to the standards of a rational and realistic world, and as a result, it loses its ability to connect with the current political climate.
“The Perfection” is one of the best Netflix films to date. It is one of the few movies the company has crafted that has a clear voice, and the source material is strong enough to support it. I was really wowed and unsettled watching this film, and that uneasiness stayed with me after the credits rolled. I certainly recommend watching if your stomach is up to the task.