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film review

Allison Williams in The Perfection.Courtesy of Netflix

  • The Perfection
  • Directed by: Richard Shepard
  • Written by: Richard Shepard, Eric C. Charmelo and Nicole Snyder
  • Starring: Allison Williams, Logan Browning and Steven Weber
  • Classification: N/A; 90 minutes


1.5 out of 4 stars

Since it premiered at the genre-centric Fantastic Fest this past September in Austin, Tex., The Perfection has been floating on a very particular kind of horror-movie high. Early reviews pegged Richard Shepard’s thriller as intense, unpredictable and especially brutal in its violence. Netflix acquired worldwide distribution rights immediately, likely hoping the film’s intensity would so rivet subscribers that they’d passively binge whatever content was queued into their feeds immediately afterward. That may very well happen, but not due to any sort of entrancing filmmaking – most everyone who watches The Perfection will instead be staring at the screen slack-jawed, dumbfounded at the gory silliness they endured.

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The tale of a once-promising cellist (Allison Williams) who seeks revenge on the rising star (Logan Browning) who usurped her immediately evokes comparisons to Black Swan, especially once Shepard adds in a psychosexual element. But the film is less concerned with themes of creative jealousy and professional ruin than it is with the fine art of the cinematic fake-out – a trick that Shepard overuses as he attempts to pile on one twist after another, to increasingly diminishing effect. And this is before the story melts into a cheap rape-revenge tale, where sexual assault is perversely used as a convenient plot device.

Williams, Browning and Steven Weber – the latter of whom pops up as a this-guy-has-to-be-evil cello expert – offer fully committed performances, with Williams especially impressive in her ability to bug the hell out. But surely they could all tell that The Perfection’s screenplay fell far short of its title promise.

The Perfection begins streaming May 24 on Netflix.