Perfect (2018)

I’m all for psychologically challenging genre fare, especially in a time where most directors and actors are convinced that many modern audiences aren’t interested in that kind of entertainment anymore. With “Perfect,” Eddie Alcazar taps in to the type of dark science fiction that can be placed beside “2001” and “Waking Life” as just pure utter mind fucks that will leave your head spinning. Alcazar’s sheer visual brilliance sadly tends to mask a narrative that otherwise has no real direction or pretty much anything of real merit to say.

Set in the future, a wealthy young man (Garrett Wareing) known only as “Vessel 13”—is taken to a distant clinic after a night with his girlfriend ends in bloodshed. In the clinic, he will undergo some form of treatment designed to ensure that he will not act violently towards others again. When he arrives at the facility, however, it seems less like a medical clinic like a bizarre spa for people his age, all of whom do basically nothing but lounge, meditate, and linger in the near nude. “Vessel 13” soon begins his transformation, which involves Kafkaesque body horror, existentialism, and ideas about perfection and normality and how they can hurt society.

Eddie Alcazar’s film is basically what would happen if someone took Terrence Malick and Stanley Kubrick combined forces to make a film that pays homage to David Cronenberg. A lot of “Perfect” is based around brilliant visual flourishes and open scenes of our character falling through abysses of his psyche while he analyzes the meaning of self improvement and cosmetic alterations. “Perfect” has a message that’s sadly muddled, as it seems to criticize and praise the ideas of what we consider perfection and how it can be achieved. Much of “Perfect” involves the characters seeking new states of perfection, and it soon becomes an obsession that makes them less human than they were when they entered the clinic. There’s never a clear indication on whether the narrative is about the pursuit of cosmetic perfection or over medication in an effort to reach some unrealistic idea about the quality.

It goes back and forth delving deep in to the idea of the consciousness and psychological ID, all the while lingering on long shots of gorgeous women, and nearly nude men. That said, Eddie Alcazar’s direction is mesmerizing, often bordering on spectacular. The shots that he includes as a means of conveying “Vessel 13” transformation both inside and out are just hypnotizing from start to finish. Not two shots in the film look similar, and Alcazar is able to create this epic dive in to the mind that stuns with massive flourishes of neon, red, and a murky atmosphere that’s relentless. Alacazar’s science fiction hybrid is fine enough, but I don’t know if I would recommend it for substance sake. Its entire framework and its ideas never quite feel developed.

I could recommend this, though, to experimental movie fans in the mood for visual feast that will definitely keep them reeling in their seats. I think with a better script, Alcazar just might end up lensing a cinematic masterpiece very soon as he’s a bonafide talent.