A married couple decide to spend a weekend in a remote cabin, but the romantic journey takes a turn for the worst, when a sneaking suspicion becomes pure madness.
December 4, 2014 (Italy)
Lucas Pavetto, Massimo Vavassori
Gabriella Wright as Viola
Bret Roberts as Nicola
Carl Wharton as Ranger
Oh man, where to begin? This movie would’ve been better in Italian. That might seem like an odd way to start a review. But the writer and director of The Perfect Husband are both Italian, the leads have impenetrable accents, and yet the movie is in English. That little detail probably wouldn’t matter, if it weren’t for the stiltedness of, well, everything in the movie. From the dialogue to the action, from the acting to craft services.
In a business sense, I know why this movie is in English. It’s the same reason the distributor changed the title from What Lies Within, trying to repackage this turkey a full two years after it came out. They are desperate for some North American greenbacks. Well, they’re not going to get a good write-up from me.
The Perfect Husband tells the story of Viola, a Project Runway model or something, who goes away to a cabin in the woods with her husband Nicola, a Project Runway model or something. They want to rekindle their marriage after Viola lost a child in pregnancy, but things take a turn for the worst. Spoilers: Nicola is not that perfect. But with a title that contrived, did you actually expect he would be? Things devolve quickly when Nicola suspects Viola of cheating. Nicola decides to exact revenge in the most brutal, chauvinist way possible because he’s a big poopy head. Honestly, I just feel icky that this movie was even made.
When I first heard the title The Perfect Husband, I expected intelligence along the lines of a Lifetime Movie. But I probably shouldn’t be so biased. Lifetime just won the Peabody. I should more accurately say The Perfect Husband wishes it was a Lifetime Movie. So what does a perfect husband do exactly? He says clichés like “crazy about you” when his wife calls him crazy. He also takes it like a perfect bitch when his wife tells him to stop treating her like a “porcelain doll”. In other words, the perfect husband is destined to snap and become the nefarious wife-beater we all expect he would be. Have your eyes fallen out yet?
To be fair, Viola and Nicola are both exceptionally beautiful people, wandering around picturesque locations. I was never wanting for eye-candy. So The Perfect Husband does manage to make me feel inadequate, like I’m watching a perfume commercial. Viola, (Gabriella Wright), has perfect teeth, angular proportions. Nicola, (Bret Roberts), has silky, grabable hair. This horror movie makes me want to buy Vidal Sassoon.
Unfortunately, The Perfect Husband has to deal with characters and plot and crap. That’s where it falls apart, just like their fake-o stillborn baby puppet. Full confession, one of my favorite horror films of the last few years was Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. That movie was a macabre, mystical meditation on grief, and the onscreen violence reflected that. Nature can be cruel after all. The Perfect Husband feels like The Asylum knockoff of Antichrist. I can imagine the movie, with a similar DVD cover, tricking someone into buying it out of the Wal-Mart dollar bin. It bares no resemblance other than the basic setup, and the imitation is shoddy at best.
Uh oh, a Dutch angle. Something bad is going to happen. Oh no, there’s a lull in the soundtrack. Sure hope nothing pops out to scare me. Another fakeout? That’s downright embarrassing. The dubbing doesn’t match the actor’s mouth. Oh well. Viola gets her cheek cut in one shot, it’s gone in the next. Shoddy, shoddy. About the only thing in The Perfect Husband that’s halfway decent is Davide Manca’s cinematography. Even then, Manca seems to have trouble keeping things in focus. That’s okay though. Filmmaking is hard. But you know what’s easy? Casual rape.
I’m not the kind of guy who is automatically turned off by graphic violence against women in movies. I can understand if others are. It’s a horror film. You have to be graphically violent against someone. But I absolutely despise when a filmmaker injects rape and violence into a movie haphazardly for no other reason than titillation. Viola races through the woods, bloody and on the run from her deranged husband intent on murdering her. She meets a stereotypical redneck, asks him for help. Five seconds later he’s raping her, for no reason. Just because he’s a poopy head. Director Lucas Pavetto has no sense of class.
Nicola’s brutalization of his wife doesn’t make any sense. He is supposed to fulfill the “sleeping with the enemy” trope, but it’s zero to sixty with no motivation. His menace comes off like so much bravado, and I no longer feel inadequate. This is one of those single location potboilers. Once the viscera starts flying, the laziness is even more apparent. The fight choreography is lazy, the gore effects are lazy. But the laziest part of all is the ending.
Spoilers: It was all in Viola’s head. The loss of her child drove her totally bughouse. She was the one terrorizing Nicola, not the other way around. All the murders were her doing, not Nicola. She wasn’t actually raped, just a whore… Because apparently postpartum depression works that way. Yes, this does mean the last hour and half was a complete waste of time.Yes, I threw something at the screen. You would too.
Why did I ruin the twist ending? The Perfect Husband, (or What Lies Within for anybody who caught it two years ago), is available on VOD/DVD. Don’t see it. I told you what happens. You can avoid the sheer vomit-inducing indignity. There’s no “so bad it’s good” light at the end of the tunnel. Just shame. Shame on you, Lucas Pavetto. Shame, shame, shame.