SXSW 2018 Review: PERFECT Delivers an Overwhelming Sensory Assault
Perfect is a phantasmagoric nightmare built upon psychedelic imagery and wild ideas. Playing out like a mind-fried riff on Altered States, this ambitious film is as impressive as it is confounding.
After a teenager (Garrett Wareing) commits a horrible crime, his mother (Abbie Cornish) sends him off to a luxurious new age retreat. While holed up in this place full of strange people and intelligent machines, the boy undergoes an experimental therapy in order to cure his ills and discover his true self.
Perfect is a natural progression from director Eddie Alcazar and Flying Lotus' short FUCKKKYOUUU! That film married surreal and grotesque imagery with electronic soundscapes to disturbing effect. Perfect takes this approach, scales it up to feature length and dials everything to the max.
Visually, Perfect mirrors the protagonist's fractured psyche. Frenetic editing, shocking set-pieces and eye-popping animation—some of which was contributed by Kidmograph—create a world that alternates between peaceful calm and chaos. Amdist the visual and auditory storm is an interesting story that dwells in themes of AI, genetic engineering and esotericism (shamanism and kundalini yoga are referenced throughout).
The narrative is opaque and at times, it's kind of impenetrable. However, decoding the narrative is part of what makes Perfect such an engrossing experience.