‘Perfect’ Review: Beyond Skin Deep

Ambition strains ability in Eddie Alcazar’s “Perfect,” a woozily incoherent sci-fi nightmare that appears destined to entertain mainly the thoroughly stoned — or make you feel as if you are.

A Cronenbergian look at genetic engineering and body modification, the movie introduces Vessel 13 (Garrett Wareing), an impossibly beautiful young man who has woken up next to the bloodied corpse of his girlfriend.

“Am I bad?,” he asks Mother (Abbie Cornish), who promptly packs him off to a secluded woodland clinic decorated with dazed, android-esque beauties swimming and lounging and downward dog-ing. Are they drugged-out models? Brainwashed members of a plastic-surgery cult? Perhaps both, as they drift through this chilly, unsettling space while disembodied voices intone enigmatic affirmations (“The way out is really the way in”) and directions for personal transformation. These require the young man to slice into himself and remove gory cubes of flesh, then — echoes of “Videodrome” — replace them with apparent reprogramming modules. Hoping to ease the torture of his sick dreams and visions, he willingly complies.

Sticking with “Perfect” means trusting that, eventually, its many weird and gruesome sights will be revealed as meaningful. As its troubled hero regresses to a subhuman state — a Caliban on an island of flawless zombies — Matthias Koenigswieser’s sometimes astounding visuals feel increasingly frenzied and psychedelic. Washing the screen in carmine and ink, he paints a brittle, self-consciously arty veneer that, matched with Flying Lotus’s dreamily insistent score, creates disorienting sensory overload.

The upshot is an oppressive, inscrutable puzzle that made me more curious about the inside of Alcazar’s head than that of his tortured subject — the kind of movie that, in some circles, might inspire fetishistic rewatching. Just don’t forget to fire up the bong.

Perfect

Movie data powered by IMDb.com

Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes.

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