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[Fantastic Fest Review]…The Perfection

From director Richard Shepard (Dom Hemingway, The Matador) comes a psychological horror film that feels extremely current yet also exists as a throwback. In the film, a former cello prodigy (Allison Williams) seeks out both her mentor (Steven Weber) and his new star pupil (Logan Browning) with enigmatic intent in this twisty and undeniably warped nail-biter.

But this is far from a straight-forward thriller. One of the reasons is Shepard who really likes breaking up a story into distinct chapters and, in the case of The Perfection, the story is all about misdirection. He is somewhat able to explore different genres in tandem with the main plot. The result of which keeps the audience guessing and thoroughly shocked. And it works brilliantly.

It seems that in cinema these days, many in the audience can stay ahead of the story and figure out where things are going. Well that’s nearly impossible to do here. On the surface, this seems like it’s about the pursuit of, well, perfection. Further, not just to be the best, but eliminate the competition or, as Conan might say, “crush your enemies.

Further, music helps weave scenes and sequences together, yet as the story is about the classical music elite, it adds to the plot while distracting you from what’s really going on. Hat tip to Shepard for that, and of course Paul Haslinger whose score never lets the cat out of the crazy bag. But trust me when we tell you this: The Perfection is crazy.

One key component is Allison Williams. After Get Out, it’s clear that many people who see the actress will immediately distrust her. It’s not wrong, yet that’s also part of the plan. The story you think you’re seeing is a coy deceit. Little by little, the narrative shows that it has many layers; the story exists simultaneously on many different playing fields, and that’s how the creative team stays one step (at least) in front of the audience. It’s not confusing, as things are explained in spoon-fed detail so everyone can feel the impact of the plot. But it’s highly satisfying, not intelligence insulting. The Perfection touches on themes of sisterhood, romance, empowerment, horror, self-fulfillment, and many others.

Playing opening night at Fantastic Fest brought a lot of eyes to this for the world premiere. It is sure to blow audiences away as it goes deeper exposing more and more of its base plot. It’s a real trip. In fact, I was so taken with the film at its premiere, I’m just going to re-post my reaction tweet to finish up this review:

Yeah, it’s that good, and then some. Can’t wait to see it again!