STARRING: Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman
When troubled musical prodigy Charlotte seeks out Elizabeth, the new star pupil of her former school, the encounter sends both musicians down a sinister path with shocking consequences.
Charlotte Willmore used to be a talented cellist who was forced to leave the prestigious music school, Bachoff Academy of Music, to take care of her mother. In the present, with her mother finally passing away, Charlotte contacts the head of Bachoff and her former mentor Anton, meeting him and his wife Paloma out in Shanghai, and being introduced to their new student Lizzie. The encounter between the two musicians leads to a sinister journey with shocking consequences.
The Perfection is the latest film Richard Shepard, who co-wrote the script with Eric C. Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, which tells the story of Charlotte Willmore, a former musical prodigy that was part of the prestigious Bachoff Academy of Music, though she left earlier than intended to take care of her ill mother. When her mother passes away, Charlotte attempts to reconnect with her former mentor and his wife, Anton and Paloma, which leads her to flying out to meet them in Shanghai and meeting their latest prodigy Lizzie.
The Perfection does a good job in setting the tone with its premise of Charlotte heading out to meet with her former mentor and their latest protégé, as we get glimpses into past via flashbacks, which makes the audience question just what is her motives, intentions going forward as the film progresses, particularly when she meets Lizzie. It’s painted that Lizzie got the life that Charlotte could’ve had: the fame, wealth and solo career thanks to the backing of Bachoff. As Charlotte and Lizzie get acquainted, they decide to go on a trip on Lizzie’s vacation time which leads to the films turning point. The setup and increased tension on this bus journey is the absolute peak of The Perfection, as is slowly builds and increases the tension due to Lizzie’s stomach bug becoming worse than they both feared, with the bus miles away from any city or town, with the co-leads excelling their characters’ terror. Actually, it’s the co-lead performances from Allison Williams and Logan Browning that make this film work, as well as Vanja Cernjul’s cinematography.
Admittedly, I was intrigued by this film right up to the end of the bus sequence that leads to a rewind moment (yes, an actual rewind) to showcase to the audience what’s really going on and it’s not the last time the film does this and it just doesn’t have anywhere near the same impact as it did the first time as you’ll be expecting it once the trick has already been used once. The film also gets weirder and by the final act a hell of a lot darker and turns almost into a grindhouse-esque body horror which throws the initial tone of the film completely off the rails. Could it be due to the fact that it’s three writers working on the script? Perhaps. There’s also a certain plot point that could prove to be distasteful for some viewers in how it plays into character motivations and I can’t say that the finale is satisfying but it is certainly a memorable image.
The Perfection is completely sold by its performances from Allison Williams and Logan Browning. Though I much preferred the first half of the film, it tonally becomes bonkers in the second half and felt that it went for one revelation/rewind too many for shock value in the final act but overall I had fun with it and I can definitely see this gain a cult following. 5/10