Richard Shepard’s new psychological horror/thriller The Perfection recently dropped on Netflix recently. Following two talented young cellists who attended a prestigious music school, Bachoff, the film is a twisting thriller that has clear influences in films like Black Swan and certainly Park Chan-wook’s 2016 Korean thriller The Handmaiden.
The perfection stars Allison Williams as Charlotte, a former cellist at the school who left to take care of her sick mother, and Logan Browning as Lizzie, the school’s newest prodigy. Both are really good in the film, they play every twist and turn in the film brilliant and really able to take it up to the ridiculous levels the film needs. Steven Weber plays Anton, the head of the music school, and aside from one scene where his character undergoes a change he feels a little flat. So much of The Perfection is ratcheted up and heightened, but it just doesn’t feel as though Weber is on that level.
Richard Shepard’s direction is another aspect of the film that was a bit of a mixed bag. He has moments where his work is brilliant, the scenes set to the cello performances in particular are fantastically well put together, however there are some off putting choices as well. His use of a rewind effect multiple times in particularly is annoying, and some of the musical drops in the film are very strange. But he handles the film’s shifting tones well.
Because there are a lot of twists and turns in the film. Some of them are incredibly obvious, others less so, and this certainly ensures that the film never feels boring. Right when you think the film is going one way with some body horror esq moments it will switch direction completely, but in ways that do make sense. The finale of the film threatens to off into schlocky over the top gore, but it just never quite commits to getting there, which was a little disappointing. However you can never accuse The Perfection of being tame and predictable.
On the whole The Perfection is a watchable enough horror/thriller, however I would certainly suggest that The Handmaiden is a far better, and similar in many ways, cinematic experience.