Finally, Perfect Creature, Glenn Standring's follow up to the excellent The Irrefutable Truth About Demons (2000), has been released on DVD in Australia. It's been a heck of a long wait, and I thought all my Christmases had come at once when I hooked a copy from my local Movie Emporium and Wine Bar. I wanted to do the whole ANZAC thing this weekend and review a movie from New Zealand and another movie from Australia. This review covers the Kiwi requirement, and a subsequent review of the cult flick Razorback will cover the Aussies. So exactly what did I think of Standring's latest opus?
Talk us through itbr> In the alternative reality country of Nuovo Zelandia humans live side by side with a group of vampires known as the Brotherhood. The country they both inhabit is a sort of Dickensian wonderland as envisaged by cyberpunks. Seems the vampires evolved 300 years ago and are seen as the next evolutionary development for humans, which is kind of strange since there are no female vamps. The vampires have set themselves up as a sort of weird alternative Catholic Church and view the vampire as being superior to humans, but with a sort of remit to look out for mankind. To date no vampire has killed a human, but this being a horror flick that's all about to change.
Brother Edgar has taken it upon himself to do what vampires do best and is chalking up the victims. Naturally this is eventually discovered, as Lilly and her crack team of police are onto the case. The Brotherhood Elders haven't been lax either, and have Brother Silus tracking down Edgar. Just when you think you have had enough to the whole "brother" malarkey, you learn Silus and Edgar are actually biological brothers.
Silus teams up with Lilly and together they set about tracking down Edgar before he can notch another brace of victims. Naturally there's a hidden agenda behind all this and things aren't as they appear. A downright superb vamp flick ensues.
Ready to check into the Brotherhood?
Reviewbr> "We just want to play with you... won't you play with us?" - Child
I had initially read the plot outline for Perfect Creature some time ago and was concerned about how this one would pan out, as there's another vamp movie (name escapes me) which pretty much covers the same rogue vampire ground, though in incredibly boring fashion. Standring does the right thing and presents a pretty unique vision with the rogue vampire element only serving to move the plot and themes along. Here Standring is doing a lot more than throwing on a goth party with vampire love trappings.
Standring approaches his vampires in a pretty unique fashion. Yes they drink human blood, with humans donating it in a sort of perverse take on holy communion, but that's about where Standring leaves the traditional mythos to it's own devices. The Brotherhood have super human strength and agility, but are not concerned about daylight and any of the other ailments traditional vampires have to put up with. Notably, nowhere in the movie does Standring refer to the "V" word, moreover he keeps it all pseudo-religious with the "Brotherhood" concept. I was jiving along to this whole idea as am slightly over the leather-clad vampire craze Underworld unleashed on us.
The humans, on the other hand, are your sort of average Joes. They know they are totally outclassed by Edgar, with all those pre-natural senses, but are going about doing their job regardless. Not surprisingly it's Sirus who overcomes their mutual enemy as the humans are being waded through like chaff. There's a whole hint of Jack the Ripper going down here, or at least I got a strong sniff of Whitehall through the rundown area Edgar is hunting in. Not surprisingly, we learn that Lilly managed to dig herself out of the slums and into the only option available, the police.
The humans are no match for the vampires, but when has that ever stopped the good old college try?
Standring drops both his vamps and humans in an alternative reality that simply rocks the house down. We're talking a sort of Victorian England hell on earth. Best comparison I can think of is some of William Gibson's other world books like "The Difference Engine". We have cars powered by steam engines, giant zeppelins in the sky, and a dark and gloomy atmosphere. Did I mention it also rains a lot in Nuovo Zelandia? The urban landscape looks blighted with everything in a permanent decaying state. All that was missing really was a London "pea souper" and we would be right at home. Set design is simply magnificent in the flick and Standring uses it to perfection; this is one hell of a good movie to look at if you can handle the constant feeling that Standring's city vision stands in a sort of dusk time frame. Get ready for some differing period looks in the various props, which range from an 18th Century colonial look to second world war handguns and helmets.
What Standring also does amazingly well is build the background through his script and hint at things to come via dialogue. Nothing really comes at you from left field, as the director/writer is almost doing a Stephen King in laying the groundwork for the more out there ideas that flow through the second and third acts of the movie. You are not going to be taken out of things by a sudden development that has no logical reason for happening.
Sorry, back to the vamps as we cover Perfect Creature's gore levels, the movie is "R" rated after all. Yep there's some good old fashion violence and gore being ladled out, but either I'm getting too complacent with that stuff or the censors simply pulled the rating out of their collective bums. Standring goes for the more vicious look for his rogue vamp and does away with the sexual elements other Directors have focused on. We get a few ripped throats but that's about all in the gore department. Really can't see where the "R" rating comes in there, as the violence itself is about as full on as you would expect to see on late night television. At worst this movie should have got hit with a "PG".
Dougray Scott (Brother Silus) lends the movie a degree of polish with an aloof yet engaging performance. For those wondering, the Scottish actor was Kyle Williams in the Dark Water (2005) remake. Scott is seriously good in Perfect Creature and was an excellent casting choice. Saffron Burrows (Lilly) also adds to the movie. Burrows keeps popping up in the weirdest places to be honest. Stealing the show however is Leo Gregory (Brother Edgar) who simply goes apeshit wild with his maniac and totally psychotic character. Gregory freaking nails it and sent the old chill up my spine, all about those intense eyes and stares.
For anyone wondering about all the Brit leads, Perfect Creature is a joint Kiwi/UK production with almost all the secondary characters being Kiwis.
Sorry to disappoint anyone seeing the "R" rating and deciding it's going to be T&A heaven, Standring keeps it as prim and proper as your maiden Aunt Sylvia.
Anne Dudley laid down the score for us, and she presents a richly textured emotive outing. Dudley matches Standring's vision and ranges from the almost haunting to the outright dramatically chill. Great score that should win some awards, but will get overlooked due to being tacked onto a horror flick.
Summary Executionbr> Glenn Standring is quickly becoming a force in New Zealand horror with two excellent first movies driving home the notion that the boy has talent. Rob Zombie and Eli Roth could certainly learn a lot about what makes horror work by watching Standring's debut feature The Irrefutable Truth About Demons, and the movie just reviewed, Perfect Creature. Standring not only hits the horror notes, but adds texture to his plot, and wraps it all up in a totally believable alternative reality. I had a frecking ball with Standring's movie and am well pleased with the state of New Zealand movie making. Perfect Creature will be a cult hit in years to come and Standring surely is headed for bigger things.
20th Century Fox purchased the North American rights to Perfect Creature but from memory never gave the movie a cinema release. One assumes it would be available on DVD up North, and for those Down Under Magna Pacific have released the movie in R4 with a swag of extras. Given the state of horror releases recently it's a crying shame that decent horror seems consigned to DVD direct release, while PG13 horror lite hits the cinemas on an almost weekly basis.
Full on recommendation for Standring's Perfect Creature for both horror and non-horror movie fans alike. This is a pretty unique vision of what a motion picture can be and Standring doesn't disappoint in presenting an excellent vision. Grab yourself a glass or two of red and settle in for a good time, you will enjoy this film.
ScaryMinds Rates this movie as ...br> br> What Twilight could have been if the people making that movie had any talent, trample your neighbours on the way out to get a copy.