Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Perfect Creature

directed by Glenn Standring

Perfect Creature 
Perfect Creature takes place in "a world not unlike our own", a Victorian-look place where vampires and humans co-exist peacefully. For 300 years the vampires have existed, the result of a freak genetic mutation that affects only males.

The vampires rule as a kind of benign clergy, taking control of science and learning, and banning others from practising "alchemy". They blame bad alchemists for all of the plagues that ravage the human population. Smallpox, influenza, and other virulent plagues take millions of lives each year, especially amongst the poor.

In the slums of Jamestown life is particularly hard. There are workhouses, and a thriving black market in influenza vaccines. When one of the Brothers goes on a killing spree it's Lilly (Saffron Burrows) who leads a team of policemen assigned to bring him in. Edgar (Leo Gregory) is said to be the first vampire to turn rogue and to commit homicide since the species emerged. The Brotherhood are keen to keep news of his crimes contained, lest the human population turn on them.

Silas (Dougray Scott) is sent by the Brotherhood to track down his brother, Edgar. Silas believes his brother is sick, but Edgar doesn't see things that way and he has his own plans for Jamestown.

This is a striking movie, with its neo-Gothic aesthetic which contrasts starkly with the filth and desolation of the slums. Glenn Standring has managed to include many of the images that we tend to associate with Victorian and Georgian life, including the moustachioed prize-fighter, airships, and strait-jackets and other grim paraphernalia of the asylum. The colours are predominantly black and grey or washed-out hues, with the occasional vivid, messy smear of crimson blood. Perfect Creature is undeniably distinctive to look at, but it's worth watching for more than its visuals, or even for its gory action.

This is an intelligent movie with various layers of meaning, encompassing elements of several genres. There's steampunk and horror of course, but it's also a detective story and a romance, with elements of science fiction with regard to the vampires' origins. It's also something of a metaphor for the inequalities of class and our political systems. The Brotherhood is a ruling élite, a theocracy that thrives on propaganda and lies. The story hints at the corruption and injustice that lurks beneath the surface of their extremely hierarchical society.

This film features a strong cast, and Scott Wills puts in a notably intense performance as Lilly's protective colleague, Jones. Edgar, Silas and Lilly are all well-rounded, compelling characters, and Standring has created a story that's likely to live on in our imaginations. If only more vampire movies were as novel and multi-layered as this one.

Film Details

Year: 2007

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 15

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson