The year’s craziest guilty pleasure movie is now streaming.
Save for January’s Serenity, it’s hard to think of a 2018 film more unapologetically its insane self than Netflix’s The Perfection, which was released on Friday. Director Richard Shepard initially sets out to tell a noir-inspired thriller about two dueling cello proteges (Allison Williams and a brilliant Logan Brown) before the film stars twisting, turning, and twisting again until a ridiculous, grotesque finale that’s already divided strident horror fans.
The set-up is an easy enough pitch: Charlotte (Williams) is a former student of an elite music school (one which appears to focus pretty much entirely on the cello, which… okay) who, after the death of her mother, links up with her former headmaster/mentor to meet his latest success: Elizabeth Wells. The two drink, gossip about past and former students, sleep with each other, and bond over the stringent rules set in place by their former shared academy. “It’s what’s expected of us,” Lizzie tells Charlotte early in the film. “I don’t miss hearing that,” Charlotte replies, unmoved.
From the earliest exchanges, Shepard allows us in on the secret that there’s more going on here. Charlotte experiences quick, violent flashes of screaming at her mother’s bedside, and of undergoing electroconvulsive therapy. High expectations can fuck you up. But just how fucked-up is Charlotte, and what’s her plan for Lizzie? When the two set off on a trip through rural China and Lizzie quickly becomes ill on the bus, that much becomes clear.
Perfect, it’s not, but this is easily the wildest movie night in you’re going to have for a long, long time.
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