Despite the title of this review, I’m going to try my best to not compare this film to Netflix’s sci-fi anthology series. Much like the highly regarded Netflix show, it drops us into a world similar to our own where technology is seemingly just a step above what we currently have, and it is also dark as hell. But that’s about all they have in common! Director Eddie Alcazar (and executive produced bySteven Soderbergh) gives you Perfect, which drops you into the world with little setup, exposition to how we got here, and tells us to play catch up very quickly to a world of genetically engineers replicant types of people who mutilate themselves to be more “perfect.”
Perfect begins by introducing us to “Vessel 13” (Garrett Wareing), a young man in some sort of secluded therapy program to help him control his violent urges. We see very quickly what he’s capable of as he has seemingly murdered his girlfriend in either a violent rage, or via some extreme sexual misadventures and he needs some therapy to rectify the situation. This type of therapy isn’t the usual sit on the couch type that we are used to, it goes through rather extreme methods.
Instead, Vessel 13 receives little care package dropped via robots, drones, and drop boxes that look like a Happy Meal toy. Instead of a nice toy though, it’s a self-mutilation kit, instructing him to cut out pieces of his flesh, and replace them with some sort of artificial skin complete with its own operating system for the purpose of improving him. His self-surgery does provide some great body horror effects as he slices piece by piece and each time he does it, he becomes even less human every time (and he does it a lot). The more he cuts into himself and inserts new robotic alternatives, the weirder things get. He has some very unique hallucinations including what could be described as the best acid trip at a rave complete with neon lights that jump out at him, as well as one where he watches Aztec warriors slaughtering people and eating a live infant. From a visual perspective, the trippy scenes work as they show Vessel 13 going through various stages of madness.
Unfortunately, you also need a story to go along with the visuals. The golden rule of movies is “show, not tell,” but in this case, we could have used a whole lot more telling. It’s one thing to ask the audience to play catch up after being dropped seemingly in the middle of a story, it’s another to just give extremely vague metaphysical voiceovers throughout and not really give us the deets on what is going on within the story and just trippy visuals. In addition, Perfect seems to want to rely on just some plain old titillation as well. All the other replicants at the compound are all supermodels, and they all seem to be in service of pleasing Vessel 13. You will get your “unnecessary breast quota” very quickly watching this film, some not even from women! Perfect seems to try and ironically show that if you try to cut away from yourself and replace it with artificial things in the name of “perfection,” you will become a soulless version of yourself, the same could be said for the film itself.