Not the worst thing you'll see all week: The Perfection

...writer/director Richard Shepard loves him some Brian De Palma.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I mentioned it in the Netflix thread. But, yeah, go into this as spoiler-free as possible. Don’t even read the short description on the Netflix page.

I just finished this. It was okay, but man, the director really goes in hard with the De Palma aping. The split focus shots were out of hand.

But see, both sides of the screen are in focus! How is that possible??? He’s a wizard!


Now I feel like I need to watch some more DePalma as I didn’t pick up on that at all.

I nearly had my wife convinced that we should watch this. I’m pretty glad that she ultimately vetoed it and I watched it alone. I would have been embarrassed to have suggested it. Its nastiness is in the service of nothing beyond a desire to be shocking and vile. I say this as a person who normally loves nasty, shocking pictures. I feel like the only way to properly pull off something this unpleasant, it either has to be a gorgeous and slick production or a grainy, grimy, I Spit On Your Grave level schlock-fest. It wasn’t either.

Or maybe it’s just that adding a child rape wrinkle into your Grand Piano riff requires a more deft hand than the one guiding this trash.

The far better take on this is The Handmaiden. Or pretty much any of Chan-wook Park’s early revenge movies.


Or at least acting and dialog above George Lucas levels. Yeesh that was awful. Steve Weber’s performance in Single White Female and The Temp was freaking Hannibal Lecter by comparison.

Awful acting and dialog can be excused in schlock, but the movie never committed to that. It tried to have one foot in silly and another in Takashi Miike and failed miserably at both.

I will be thankful every day for the rest of my life that the scenes with Steven Weber full frontal were not split focus.

I don’t know shit about de Palma, but I though this was really good!

I think going in with no knowledge or expectations worked really well. The first act sets up a really distinct movie un-reality*, everything is just weird and heightened enough that when the cleaver comes out, it works. Not knowing what kind of horror movie this will be helped that feeling. Is this going to be, like, some weird demonic possession thing? Bird-flu zombies? The Mongolian Hills Have Eyes?

It also uses its gimmick quite well. The first time it happens, it’s unexpected, but the second time it happens, you’re pretty much waiting for it. However, using it more than twice would have been over-doing it. And the protagonist pivot was well handled.

I think that in several scenes, the director was judicious in his timing of cutting away to be disturbing, but not linger on squick or torture porn. The rape elements were a little heavy handed and I could have done with less of that, and with less of the gratuitous lesbian sequences in the first act (I can make an argument for their inclusion, but not a good one), but overall, I think the themes worked. Not to be reductive, but there’s a zeitgeist-y #metoo element that makes this a distinctly 2019 movie.

Also, as a big fan of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, I was half wanting to see a human-cello, and you kind of get one? So that payoff was neat.

* The least realistic thing in this entire movie is the entire party of people drinking and enjoying baijiu.