We’re deep into Spooktober, my little ghosts and goblins. No turning back now.
And for Week 6, I’m reviewing the movie The Perfection, starring Allison Williams and Logan Browning, and directed by Richard Shepard. This is such a difficult movie to discuss without spoilers, because this entire movie is basically plot twist after plot twist, but I’m going to try my darndest right here to explain this movie without spoiling anything. Deep breaths.
I think my husband Ben actually described it best when he called it Black Swan meets Whiplash. In this movie, Allison Williams plays Charlotte, a former cello prodigy who had to leave a prestigious music academy when her mother fell ill. Ten years later her mother has finally died (Charlotte’s words, not mine) and Charlotte is ready to return to the world of music. Only in her absence, another cellist has risen in the ranks. Lizzie (played by Logan Browning) is the new HBIC of the cello. When these two are reunited, will they become friends? Bitter enemies? Lovers?
The answer is… all of the above?
In a lot of ways, this movie is a complete mess. It starts off by setting up a rivalry between the two girls, but then they quickly fall for each other. Then, in the next act of the movie, we get into some really disturbing body horror. After that, the movie becomes more of a revenge thriller, but not in the way you’re expecting. This movie has about 50 plot twists, which, I GET IT. IT’S REALLY FRUSTRATING for a lot of people.
But! But. Even though The Perfection does a lot of things that narratives absolutely should not do, somehow this mess of a movie works for me. Let’s try to break down why that is without totally blowing the 7,000 plot twists.
Okay. So. Let’s talk about Allison Williams first, because this was brilliant casting. Any horror movie fan will have preconceived notions about Allison Williams and the characters she will play because of her excellent performance in Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The film definitely uses those preconceived notions to its advantage.
And yes, we are also all very familiar with Allison Williams on Girls. First of all, who cares? Girls sucks. Second of all, I would argue that she plays a very similar character on Girls as she does in Get Out, and this sort of typecasting worked well for The Perfection. For the most part.
Logan Browning was also great. While Williams plays the, I would argue, more subdued character, Browning is given a lot of big emotions to play with here. Fear, madness, devastation, anger, revenge bitch. She gets to play with all of these emotions and more. And yes, “revenge bitch” is an emotion. Fight me.
On top of that, I’m sorry, she’s just really gorgeous. And, like, yeah Allison Williams is pretty too, and I’m not saying she’s not. But I knew who Allison Williams was before this. This Logan Browning person was new to me and I found her very interesting to watch both for her acting and also for her hotness. So sue me.
More things I liked. The bonkers storyline actually kept me entertained. I know if I sit down and think about it too hard, the whole storyline begins to feel a little too out there, but who cares? Sometimes what’s most horrifying about a horror movie is that weirdness, the sense that this is some skewed version of reality that we’re looking at. Would these events transpire this way in real life? Probably not. But in this horror movie version of the world? Absolutely. And maybe that’s enough. For me, I think it is.
The music was also lovely and worked into the plot well. AGAIN, without giving too much away, there is a cello performance towards the end of the movie that literally had me on the edge of my seat. If you want to know what I’m talking about, get on over to Netflix and watch this movie.
Of course, not everything about this movie worked. I found myself questioning the motivations of these characters several times. I know I recently applauded short horror movies for their ability to get a lot done in a small amount of time, but this is one of those horror movies I think could have benefitted from a little more time.
The heart of this movie is Lizzie and Charlotte, and the two stellar performances these actresses put into these roles. We get the sense from flashbacks and from what the characters tell us that they have rich and complicated back stories. But we only see small flashes of these. I think a small amount of additional character development could have gone a long way to advance this story.
I think the reason so much character development is withheld from us as viewers is because the plot twist is king in this movie. In order for the plot twists to work, there has to be so much information that us as viewers just don’t understand. If we knew what these characters were thinking and what their motivations were, then we wouldn’t be surprised by their actions. But then that raises the question… are the plot twists really benefitting the story if the viewers have to have literally ZERO idea of what’s going on for the twists to work?
Maybe it’s best not to think too hard of what this movie could have been and just enjoy it for what it is: a quick, fun horror film starring two badass women and a whole lot of cello music. I can’t complain about that.
The Perfection is available to stream on Netflix now. See you next week for more Spooktober.