Perfect Creature (film, 2007)

A review from Death Ray 07.


2006/84 mins/15

Director: Glen Standring

Writer: Glen Standring

Starring: Dougray Scott, Saffron Burrows, Leo Gregory

Ambitious, if not wholly successful, blend of alt-universe SF and vampire mythology.

Every SF fan should have time for films like this – moody mid-budget flicks that tackle ideas more sophisticated than your average blockbuster. In the washed out colours and half-baked concepts of Split Second, Quiet Earth or Equilibrium there’s meat and drink for minds out for something fresh.

Like a lot of these labours of love, Perfect Creature has oodles of atmosphere and six too many ideas. Imagine trying to get this across in a drama: We’re in “Nuovo Zelandia”, in the 1960’s of an alternate universe where vampires exist, but because of the early discovery of genetics two hundred years before by an Italian genius (who may have created vampires, it’s not clear), vamps were accepted as a new species. As “Brothers”, in a kind of church, they watch over humanity. And humans need shepherding, as the world’s not in a good way in  – gene-engineered ‘Flu unleashed in the past kills thousands every year. The Brothers spend a lot of their time trying to find a cure, but one, Edgar (Gregory) goes mad as a result and starts biting people (the first Brother ever to do this), incidentally spreading a new plague that might create female vampires (which don’t exist). Brother Silus (Scott) has to work with policewoman Lilly (Burrows) from this reality’s ubiquitous slums to track him down, because Edgar also happens to be his actual brother. Oh, and the British Empire still exists. Maybe…

None of this hangs together convincingly, a common problem with films of this ilk. The story staggers across this unstable reality, arms flailing for balance, its themes spilling down the cracks, while disjointed SF concepts shoot past its ears like arrows. Put simply, there’s just far too much in it to be casually introduced or neatly explained. And then the whole thing feels like a pilot for either a film series or TV show.

Lucky then that these shortcomings are papered over by moody cinematography, imaginative, steampunk design and strong performances. It’s better than 2002’s Equilibrium, to which it seems a brother, but does not quite reach the next rung on the SF ladder, where such as Dark City make their home. Interesting.

Did you know?

At $20million, Perfect Creature is the third most expensive New Zealand-funded film ever, only The World’s Fastest Indian and The Frighteners cost more.

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