From the moment a sun-kissed trek through the countryside turns brutally sinister after Get Out star Allison Williams conveniently provides her companion (panic-stricken Dear White People actress Logan Browning) with a rusty cleaver to hack off her cockroach-infested arm, it’s clear nothing is what it seems in EW’s exclusive trailer for Netflix’s upcoming thriller The Perfection — and that’s totally the point.
“If you stopped the movie every 20 minutes and were asked what it’s about or what you think’s happening, you’d be wrong — until it’s over,” Williams tells EW of the film’s deliberately misleading brand of storytelling, which shifts tones (with gleeful ferocity) between camp comedy, Showgirls for elite cellists, and Brian De Palma-inspired caviar splatter as it charts the twisted journey of two former musical prodigies bound by a disturbing secret from their past.
So, how do the trailer’s sequences involving larvae-garnished vomit, self-mutilation, and sexually charged performances of classical music figure into The Perfection‘s twisted plot? You’re definitely not supposed to know. Surrendering to the ride, Williams teases, yields the answers.
“Anything heavy is handled in a confusing way, because nothing in life happens that tidily. The movie deals with a world in which people masquerade as one thing to continue living another life, so it — even in terms of genre and aesthetic — puts on different masks.” Williams, careful to guard the film’s (many) secrets, observes. “It’s convoluted, confusing, and doesn’t make sense until you have some perspective.”
Having previously directed Williams across six seasons of the HBO series Girls, filmmaker Richard Shepard knew the 31-year-old was well equipped to tackle the emotional breadth of The Perfection‘s multi-faceted structure; In fact, he (and Ringer writer-producers Nicole Snyder and Eric C. Charmelo) co-wrote the script with the actress in mind after witnessing her full dramatic range across one of the Lena Dunham-created dramedy’s best episodes, “The Panic in Central Park.” He then married his fascination with Williams with an admiration for gory revenge sagas by international auteurs to hone The Perfection‘s unique language.
“I’m a big fan of Korean director Chan-wook Park and his thriller-horror movies Oldboy and The Handmaiden. There are so many crazy twists and turns, yet they somehow make sense because they’re character driven. I really wanted to try that in an American movie,” says Shepard, likening the project to De Palma’s Dressed to Kill and Sisters as films with a “B-movie attitude” dressed in “A-movie aesthetic.”
That inviting sheen “welcomes an audience coming for a specific kind of movie,” Browning adds. “But they have no idea what’s really in store, while they’re still enjoying what they did come for; there’s depth to the story they couldn’t have anticipated.”
To tease the film’s central (and timely) message would be a colossal disservice to both The Perfection‘s visceral beat and its painstakingly wrought layers of complexity. Until you experience the film on its own, it’s best to heed a cliché warning: Expect the unexpected. If you’re lucky, the oncoming thematic mass will collide with your senses as intensely as it did to the film’s stars.
“I mean, it was heavy material to film, and, at the end of the day, I always felt like maybe I’d been hit by, not a metro, but…” Browning says, trailing off before Williams finishes the sentence: “A smaller vehicle!”
And the film’s intent to stun, they agree, was the only thing that was crystal clear from the start.
The Perfection premieres May 24 on Netflix. Watch EW’s exclusive trailer for the film above (and see the film’s new poster below).