One of my greatest joys as a blogger is discovering underappreciated Horror gems, films I can feel proud rallying behind and getting other aficionados excited about. So as I write today’s review, I am a happy man.
Perfect Creature, an epic Horror from New Zealand, that takes place in a dark and atmospheric alternate universe where immortals with fangs drink the blood of humans. Yet this is a world where the word “Vampire” does not exist. In the universe of Perfect Creature, a “Brotherhood” of super-humans guides and protects a society that literally worships them by “donating” blood as a sacramental act. These monastic aristocrats would never kill, but they do require this blood for sustenance. In a subversion of the standard parasitic dynamic between vampires and humans, Perfect Creature offers us a co-existence based on respect and symbiosis. Writer/director Glenn Standring has created an absolutely singular innovation in the somewhat tired Vampire subgenre (essentially desecrated by the Twilight Franchise).
Check out my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: Three centuries ago, human genetic experimentation gave rise to an advanced species known as the Brotherhood. These superior beings lived in harmony with mankind, protecting them from disease while relying on them for sustenance. But now, the fragile balance between man and vampires is threatened when Brother Silus (Douglary Scott) learns that one of his kind has unleashed a deadly virus that is killing off humans… and wiping out any chance for a peaceful coexistence.
I was serious when I called Perfect Creature “epic”; what else can you say about a movie that exists in it’s own unique universe? Just as Star Wars takes place “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away,” Standring’s saga unfolds “In a world not unlike our own”. While it’s not completely devoid of light, it is a dark world nonetheless. Imagine dystopian aspects of the Industrial Revolution, the Cold War following World War II, and 1880’s Whitechapel. It’s a world of steam and alchemy, wrought iron and vacuum tubes, cables and pressure gages, slums and cathedrals. The polluted skyline is patrolled by metallic blimps that scan the streets below with fierce spotlights. Add to this creative mix all the noir of a hard-boiled detective caper set in the 1950’s and the science-fiction sensibilities of Philip K. Dick.
Thematically, Perfect Creature delves into the issue of genetic engineering, illustrating its fantastic potentials–and potentially catastrophic consequences. On the one hand, we’re told that it was this kind of scientific experimentation that lead to the creation of the Brotherhood and all of their godlike gifts (namely the ability to heal sickness and disease), however, it was further unscrupulous explorations that lead to “all the bad things” in this world: Plagues like Influenza. It’s a society where vaccines are used as a means of suppression and control, fetching fortunes on the black market.
These plot elements are a direct reflection of distinctly 21st Century anxieties regarding vaccination and pharmaceutical manipulations, where drugs are both essential and suspect, where homeopathic cures offer hope to those who feel abandoned by western medicine. Not to mention the ever-present fear of biological warfare. It’s “Better living through Chemistry” run amuck.
While there was clearly a potential for Standring to use this story as an exploration of race and class inequalities, like the ghettoization of the poor, “separate but equal” segregation, and man’s inherent “prejudice and paranoia”, Perfect Creature never ventures deep into this territory. Instead, it focuses on the human drama in the cop-story at the film’s core. Similarly, Standring takes time to delve into Silus’s relationship with humanity: His responsibilities to it as well as his need to reconcile the humanity within himself. As a Brother, his purpose is focused and profound, but doesn’t allow for love or even friendship. The more Silus engages with humanity, the more he questions the Brotherhood’s secrecy and hypocrisy.
Perfect Creature also focuses on a sibling rivalry as fierce as the original battle between Cain and Abel.
In an Act 3 twist, Perfect Creatures becomes a virus Horror with quarantine scenario similar to 28 Days/Weeks Later in several ways: The oozing herpes-esque sore and deeply bloodshot eyes, the means of transmission followed by a quick transformation into a rabid fiend, as well as the government’s response to the crisis. This sets the stage for an all out war of a climax that leave the door wide open for a sequel.
While the pacing is a bit uneven, Perfect Creature is a spectacular film and a visual feast, most successful for the amazing alternate-reality it creates. It’s reminiscent of the best qualities of films that straddle border of Horror and Fantasy, similar in tone and presentation to movies like: Dark World, The Crow, Constantine, Legion, Priest, and even The Matrix. Please forgive the hideous DVD cover-art that make it looks like a crappy Blade knock-off.
Perfect Creature is, in my opinion, one of the best films to come out of New Zealand EVER, in terms of Horror/fantasy, second only to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the Hobbit films, and way better than The Frighteners. Why more people haven’t heard of this one is a mystery to me, but if there is any justice, Perfect Creature will one day achieve the Cult status it truly deserves.
3.5 out of 5 Skull Heads.
|Directed by||Glenn Standring|
|Produced by||Tim Sanders|
|Written by||Glenn Standring|
|Starring||Dougray Scott Saffron Burrows Leo Gregory|
|Music by||Anne Dudley|
|Editing by||Chris Blunden|
|Distributed by||United States: 20th Century Fox Australia: Magna Pacific|