Perfect Creature (2006) / Sci Fi-Horror
MPAA Rated: R for violence, gore, and language
Running Time:90 min.
Cast: Saffron Burrows, Dougray Scott, Leo Gregory, Scott Wills, Stuart Wilson, Craig Hall
Director: Glenn Standring
Screenplay: Glenn Standring
Although not explicitly stated within the movie, Perfect Creature sets the events of the film in New Zealand during the 1960s, in some sort of alternate timeline that goes back for at least three centuries, since the days of plagues and influenzas of the Middle Ages. Alchemists working on cures for the viruses and afflictions, have caused a sort of evolution producing produced a new offshoot of human life. This new race is akin to humans, but possesses the attributes known in the early days as nosferatu (vampires) due to their sharp teeth and thirst for blood. Despite their appearance, no human has ever been killed by one of "the Brothers", as the all-male genetic offshoots (they need humans to produce offspring) have come to be more familiarly known, and in many ways, through genetic research and disease curing, they have stopped humans from perishing.
One Brother, Edgar (Gregory, Tristan + Isolde), has recently broken ranks and has begun killing off members of the human population. His "brother", Silus (Scott, Dark Water), is out to stop Edgar before news spreads that humans are being feasted upon, which would surely aggravate already-existing prejudices against the Brothers into the possibility of an all-out war. With the help of a resourceful female police officer, Lilly (Burrows, Troy), the two team up to put a stop to Edgar's plans for spreading his own form of virus (using his own blood) for reasons that he thinks are just part of the natural order of things.
Perfect Creature is one of New Zealand's most expensive films to date (though not saying much -- it's budgeted under $20 million US), with high quality special effects, solid production design, and impressive sets and costumes that rival some of the more modest-budgeted sci-fi features from Hollywood. Given that the timeline of the film is supposed to be the 1960s when the Earth is ravaged by a nasty influenza, the lack of technological advancements makes a certain sense, even if it is impossible to expect that the course of human history would actually follow a similar course with the second strain of humanoid creatures that live for centuries coming into public knowledge in the 17th Century.
This is a "go with the flow" kind of film, where you must suspend disbelief in order to sit back and take in the story merely for entertainment value. While it certainly impresses in terms of the concepts, production values, acting, and direction, where Perfect Creature fails is in generating excitement through plot momentum. Though there are moments of action and intrigue, they seem to be at odds with the sort of contemplative, somber mood of the rest of the film, which attempts to explore themes such as trust, betrayal, and prejudice in ways that are glossed over by the "sexier" effects and quick-cut editing of the ultra-heightened "vampire" senses and agility. In other words, the film is slow when it shouldn't be, and not exciting enough when it should be.
Although Glenn Standring (Truth About Demons) is credited as the writer and director, it's hard to lay too much blame as to why Perfect Creature doesn't gel into something more substantial, as the project does come off like something that could have been more visionary, if only Standring had the resources and studio backing to bring it more fully to life. Comparisons by the producers to Blade Runner and Blade probably won't help, as it is neither as erudite as the former, nor as action-packed as the latter, which may frustrate some viewers who come into the film looking for either direction.
While hardcore sci-fi and action junkies may feel tepid toward Perfect Creature, I do suspect that its unique revisionist take on the nosferatu mythos will be fascinating for those who are heavily into vampire stories. The vision of a world where vampires and humans co-exist in a symbiotic relationship is certainly refreshing, and the story hints at directions that future stories could ostensibly take if the film were to be a success. I will venture to say that the film will not find its proper audience in theatrical release, but could have a cult following once it hits the home video and cable markets, as there is an interesting back story to the film that might generate spin-off ideas, though it is never adequately explored within the confines of this brother vs. brother battle for the fate of humankind.
Perfect Creature is a grungy, stolid vampire film that generates intrigue in spots, but not enough to elevate it into the realm of worthwhile entertainment for those not already fascinated by the allure of science-based horror films. Still, the lack of adequate excitement is a liability -- it won't do for vampires what 28 Days Later did for zombie flicks.
©2007 Vince Leo