Perception follows up and coming real estate investor Daniel (played by Wes Ramsey of TV’s Charmed) relying on the services of psychic Nina (Meera Rohit Kumbhani of Television’s Black Box) to contact his dead wife. What starts as a man’s desperation to have one more chance with his beloved evolves into a sinister co-dependency between Daniel and Nina that reveals ugly intentions.
Perception is a twisted, delightful surprise that takes viewers on a wild, unexpected ride. This caught me off guard as the first act of the film is quite rocky. The dialogue seems forced, the initial acting is amateur, and the awkward pauses do not fit with beautifully shot scenes and cinematography. For instance, there is a character named Andrew (played by Max Jenkins of TV’s Dead to Me) who is Daniel’s assistant at the real estate investment firm. Whenever Andrew first appears on screen, he delivers cringeworthy one-liners and is obviously kissing ass to Daniel in order to gain his favor. Andrew seems like a caricature of a person. Although, he did get some chuckles from me.
The other characters have this same authenticity issue, until the movie starts hitting its stride. There is honestly a brilliance in how everyone has this fake, polite aesthetic, but as events unfold that begin to peel back the darkness of the characters, they all progress into authentic performances that draw the viewer in with grotesque curiosity. Prior to the film’s twist, I was scratching my head, trying to figure out how well set up shots, good pacing, and an interesting plot line was producing flat characters. But, I finally released this was intentional.
After the twist (which I will not spoil), everything falls into place and the movie transforms from a one-off Friday night Netflix pick to a disaster from which you cannot look away. The true villain of the film reveals their identity in a natural way that is not forced by the movie. But the scariest aspect of the villain is the true to life representation of the characterization. People like the villain exist and that in itself is horrifying and makes Perception stand out as the film relies on the horrors of real life.
Despite my praise, Perception does have a flawed ending. This well-crafted, intentional film has a conclusion that is rushed, does not tie up loose ends, and makes no sense. There are so many aspects of the film that are impactful and praiseworthy, but the denouement is a disservice to the thrill of the story and the struggle of the characters.
Overall, Perception is an excellent film that I highly recommend watching if you have been dying for a thriller to rock your night. The acting is terrific, the story is compelling, and do not be put off by the synopsis, Perception is so, much, more.
WICKED RATING: 8/10
Director(s): Ilana Rein
Writer(s): Ilana Rein, Brian Smith
Stars: Wes Ramsey, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, Caitlin Mehner
Release: Arrives on Digital & VOD On August 6th
Studio/ Production Co: Pax33 Productions
Length: 102 Minutes