Perfect (2018)

Perfect first published by SciFiNow

“Mother, am I bad?”

A teenaged boy (Garrett Wareing) – listed in the closing credits only as ‘Vessel 13’ – comes with a history of violence. He has recently woken in his home besides the bloody corpse of his girlfriend, with only the dreamiest memory of how he reduced her to this state. So his mother (Abbie Cornish) sends him to a special clinic at a modernist complex deep in the jungle. In this Eden, where the mother had herself once stayed on a regime of self-improvement, she hopes that her son can be ‘fixed’ and, under the remote guidance of Dr Price (Maurice Compte) and Ozawa (Tao Okamoto), find a new path in life. Yet in this cult-like setting, where the building’s many reflective surfaces shimmer with New Age mumbo jumbo and bizarre pseudo-science, the ‘dangerous’ boy will find only atavism and (body) horror.

The boy’s quest for legacy, identity, love and transformation is of course one that we all share, making the oneiric, abstract spaces of Eddie Alcazar’s Perfect swim in the waters of allegory. In this immaculate environment, the boy – going ever backwards into primitivism and monstrousness as everyone around him seems only to move forward – represents the flaw in the carpet, unsettling everyone and providing much-needed balance to the illusory perfection all around. Where other patients – including love interest Sarah (Courtney Eaton) – seek only to evolve and move on, the boy serves as a reminder that we are all products of the past and unwitting amalgams of the ancestral errors that drive our inherited urges.

Pitched somewhere between Altered States (1980) and Beyond the Black Rainbow (2010), Perfect offers an unsettling, narcissistic, even solipsistic journey into selfhood, where the doctors are also patients, personal development is also devolution, and love – if it exists at all – is a necessary, salutary delusion. Meanwhile, Perfect lives up to its title with breathtaking, hallucinatory visuals, and Flying Lotus’ estranging electro score.

Strap: In Eddie Alcazar’s SF allegory of identity Perfect, the flaws are the point. 

© Anton Bitel