I am truly angry that no one told me about this bizarre lesbian musician psychological revenge horror movie before I watched it. It has everything I love in a horror movie. Queer characters? Check. Interesting structure? Check. Twisty as hell? Check. The Perfection lived up to its name, in my opinion.
The cellos are coming to get you, Barbara
This movie follows Charlotte Wilmore, a former cello prodigy who had to drop out of the prestigious Bachoff Music Academy to take care of her sick mother. After her mother’s death, she reconnects with Anton, the headmaster of the school, and joins him in China, where he is recruiting new students. There, she meets Elizabeth, the newest prodigy who has replaced her, and they hook up. On their way to a different city, Elizabeth gets really sick, vomiting bugs and seeing them crawl under the skin of her arm.
When Charlotte produces an axe and tells Lizzie to chop off her own hand, we have the movie’s first twist. Charlotte gave Lizzie her mother’s medication, which causes psychotic hallucinations. It’s a revenge movie, right? Nope! It turns out, the Bachoff Academy is a front for pedophilia and abuse, and Lizzie is a brainwashed student. Cut to later, when Lizzie has been kicked out of Bachoff. She kidnaps Charlotte and brings her back to the school.
Anton forces Charlotte to play a song. If she makes one mistake, he will prey on the newest student, a little girl. Even though she plays perfectly, it doesn’t matter. He is still going to abuse the girl and torture Charlotte. As Anton leaves Charlotte with Lizzie and the other two teachers, we have the next twist. Charlotte and Lizzie have been working together this whole time! They poison the teachers and cut off all of Anton’s limbs. The movie ends with Charlotte and Lizzie playing the cello together as a disembodied Anton is forced to watch.
A girl’s best friend is her cello
I love how The Perfection plays with point of view. The movie is divided into four acts, and each one begins with a rewind of what we’ve already seen, then a redux of it from a different perspective. This allowed the viewer to get in all the characters’ heads and really fleshed them out. Personally, I really enjoyed seeing a relationship between two women at the heart of the movie rather than them hating each other, which a lazier film might have done. The horrific story also explores cycles of abuse and those who enable it or ignore it. One thing I didn’t like was the effects, which were not very well done, and the unbelievability of Charlotte’s plan. Ultimately, though, the movie is absolutely crazy, very original, and touches on important themes.
I came here to play cello and kick ass…and I’m all done with my cello sonata
This movie was badass and wickedly funny in the best way. I didn’t realize how cathartic it would be to see a rapist get butchered, but it was. None of the female characters were two-dimensional and all of them were compelling, which is unfortunately not common in horror. Overall, I think this movie uses horror as a way of commenting on modern issues like sexism and institutionalized abuse. It might not be for everyone, but I definitely recommend giving it a try.(4 / 5)
Horror Noire, a Film Review
Horror Noire is a horror collection that includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.”
Horror Noire is a horror collection brought by the combined efforts of AMC+ and Shudder. The collection includes “Daddy,” “The Lake,” “Brand of Evil,” “Bride Before You,” “Fugue State,” and “Sundown.” Horror Noire boasts Black directors and screenwriters, providing six unique stories.
As this collection explores six stories, I will skip the usual synopsis to assess the genres and ideas explored, albeit limited as needed. Expect to find supernatural horror, creature features, and psychological thrillers. Many short films deal with these genres while exploring Black issues, but this isn’t universal for the collection.
The directors and writers include Zandashé Brown, Robin Givens, Rob Greenlea, Kimani Ray Smith, Steven Barnes, Ezra Clayton Daniels, Tananarive Due, Shernold Edwards, Victor LaValle, and Al Letson.
What I Like
Each story remains unique, holding different strengths and weaknesses that highlight drastically different perspectives. Collections like VHS hold a similar premise to create their collection, but Horror Noire gives more creative freedom to its talent to be independent.
My personal favorite short film is Zandashé Brown’s “Bride Before You.” This period piece unravels a fable set in the Reconstruction Era. The entry feels Fabulistic in approach, which happens to be my preferred niche.
However, the best example of horror goes to Robin Givens’ “Daddy,” providing an existential horror tied directly to the characters involved.
What I Dislike
As mentioned, all have a particular style and idea. The downside of this approach always remains to keep the viewer interested long enough to find their favorite. If you find several underwhelming choices, this becomes a chore. But I imagine that is rare as the variety makes the options refreshing.
Personally, “Brand of Evil” had an interesting premise, but the execution fell short. On paper, it might have sounded like my favorite, which makes the lackluster execution a bigger letdown.
Horror Noire gives power and control to Black creators, providing a formula for a unique collection against others in the space. While the various subjects and approaches mean you aren’t likely to love them all, there should be a short film for everyone.
(3.5 / 5)
Episode six of Netflix’s Dahmer was not, honestly about our title character. Instead, it was about one of his victims, a man named Tony. We’ve actually seen Tony a few times during this series. We just didn’t know it was him.
And, well, he wasn’t exactly alive the first time we saw him.
Tony was born into a supportive, loving family. This is good because soon after he was born a viral infection took his hearing. He is black, deaf, and gay in the early 90’s.
Tony has a dream of becoming a model. And he certainly has the looks for it. He is beautiful, body and soul. He has lots of opportunities for romance, but it’s not what he’s looking for. He wants a real relationship.
Eventually Tony moves to Madison, trying to pursue his dream. He gets a job and starts getting modeling work.
Then, he meets Jeff Dahmer at a bar.
At first, we can almost believe that it’s going to be alright. Jeff seems happy. He’s taking care of himself. He’s not drinking as much. He even has his dad and stepmom over for dinner. It seems like his life is getting on track. Even better, he’s treating Tony right.
Then, of course, things go bad.
One thing that has always bothered me as a true crime fan is that we know so much about the killers, but not as much about the victims. Not so much if we don’t know who the killer is, of course. But the names that are part of our pop culture are those of the killers. Dahmer, Manson, Jones, Bundy, Holms. The names we don’t know are Roberta Parks, Beth LaBiancas, Leno LaBiancas, and Tony Hughes. And clearly, we should know them.
If Tony Hughes was half the shining, positive person that the show Dahmer made him out to be, I’m so sad that he isn’t with us anymore. We need so many more people like him. And many of Dahmer’s victims were likely just like him. After all, he was attracted to them for a reason.
This was a significant episode, and I understand why it’s the highest-rated episode of the series. I finished it with a heavy heart, saddened by the loss of a man who should still be with us today.(5 / 5)
Mandrake, a Film Review
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey, starring Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty.
Mandrake is a 2022 supernatural horror directed by Lynne Davison and written by Matt Harvey. This film boasts a cast that includes Deirdre Mullins, Derbhle Crotty, and Paul Kennedy. It is currently available for subscribers in DirectTV, Shudder, Amazon Prime, or AMC+.
Cathy Madden (Deirdre Mullins) is a probation officer tasked with the most vilified case in her town, Mary Laidlaw (Derbhle Crotty). When a child goes missing, all eyes turn to the infamous Bloody Mary. Cathy, always believing in the best of people, tries to protect Mary. But evidence begins to mount, and Cathy finds herself in increasing danger.
What I Like
Deirdre Mullins and Derbhle Crotty add weight to the film in their performances. Cathy proves resilient against the challenges she faces, while Mary can make any actions intimidating.
To not spoil anything, the ending is bittersweet in the best of ways, showing Cathy grow and mend relationships.
The atmosphere around Mary Laidlaw brings about the intimidation that earns the nickname Bloody Mary. It becomes easier to see why a town would fear this woman as we find her motives sinister.
What I Dislike
While there may be external magical elements, I found people obeyed Mary Laidlaw a little too easily for a vilified woman. There wasn’t enough for me to be convinced she intimidated them to action or magically charmed them. Or perhaps the performances felt underwhelmingly passive?
There was an irritating moment where a stalker helped save the day. The assistance is minor, but it still irritates me.
The daytime scenes of the film are bland. Perhaps it’s intentional, but the night scenes are stunning, making the contrast greater. While this film focuses on its night scenes, I couldn’t understand why it looked so bland, and sometimes poor quality, in the day.
Mandrake can be a frightful enjoyment, especially when set at night where the details work. However, many elements left me wanting more or better. If you’re looking for a witchy tale, I’d say there are better options, but Mandrake can keep you entertained.
(2.5 / 5)