The Perfection: Netflix Orchestrates a Twisting Thriller

Art is pain. At least that’s what horror movies would have you believe. In less than a year, Suspiria twisted limbs in a dance academy, and Velvet Buzzsaw gave us evil paintings. And now Netflix wants to invest the world of classical music with horror. The streaming giant’s latest release, The Perfection, orchestrates a twisting tale of jealousy and exploitation set in the world of classical music.

Synopsis

Former musical prodigy Charlotte abandoned her career to care for her ailing mother. Following her mother’s death, Charlotte travels to Shanghai in hopes of re-igniting her career. But her mentor has a new prodigy, Lizzie, a young, brilliant cellist. In an unexpected twist, Charlotte strikes up a whirlwind relationship with Lizzie. Is it a mutual passion for music that has brought them together? Or is it jealousy and revenge?

The Perfection A Symphony of Twists and Turns

In no way does the above synopsis do The Perfection’s story justice. Consider it to be just the tip of the iceberg. Director Rircard Shepard shares writing credits with Eric C Charmelo. With this latest Netflix original, the writing duo have spun one of the more unpredictable thrillers since last year’s Annihilation. From its opening moments, The Perfection plays with expectations, only hinting at Charlotte’s mental state and motivations. Though it takes its time, the story escalates quickly, subverting expectations on more than one occasion. Just when you think you know where things are going, Shepard and Charmelo go in a completely unexpected direction.

Though it takes its time, the story escalates quickly, subverting expectations on more than one occasion.

Where The Perfection stumbles is a little is in its lack of character development and somewhat convoluted nature of its plot. It’s a clever movie that basks a little too much in its own twisty story. As a result, The Perfection leans a little too heavily on expository dialogue and flashbacks to fill in gaps. All of this occurs at the expense of its characters. Allison Williams and Logan Browning, as Charlotte and Lizzie, are both uniformly excellent. In a supporting role, the always reliable Steven Weber doesn’t disappoint either. Still, at times, they’re less characters and more moving parts of an elaborate story.

Beautiful and Visually Stylish Thriller

Like the recent Suspiria remake, The Perfection is a beautifully shot movie. Cinematographer Varna Cernjul frames several striking scenes with brilliant colours. Charlotte and Lizzie’s cellist duet, intercut with their first intimate encounter, is expertly edited. It also highlights how music connects the two young women. Rapid reverses are employed to create the movie’s flashbacks. Simply put, The Perfection has visual style to spare.

The Perfection has visual style to spare.

All of this beautiful cinematography is contrasted with some truly gruesome moments. If you’re uncomfortable with projectile vomiting then you may consider passing on The Perfection. Though Shepard doesn’t go full David Cronenberg, The Perfection falls closely in the vein of body horror. Yes, a few limbs are severed over the course of the movie. Yet Shepard doesn’t go all in with the body horror. As compared to more gruesome fare, The Perfection shows a little more restraint. Nonetheless, the final twist is disturbing and timely as well.

The Perfection is Beautifully Disturbing

Overall, The Perfection balances beauty with brutality in effectively equal measures. The end result is a genuinely unpredictable thriller that intrigues from beginning to end. This is the rare movie that has a few surprises to offer audiences. Following on the fun Velvet Buzzsaw, Netflix has another art-house horror winner on its hands.

THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A-

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I am a Criminology professor in Canada but I've always had a passion for horror films. Over the years I've slowly begun incorporating my interest in the horror genre into my research. After years of saying I wanted to write more about horror I have finally decided to create my own blog where I can share some of my passion and insights into the films I love.

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