Warning: Some spoilers from Netflix's The Perfection are ahead.
Netflix’s latest horror movie, The Perfection, is a tight and terrifying 90-minute thriller starring Allison Williams and Logan Browning as cellists with a hidden agenda. So, spoiler alert, for anyone who hasn’t yet seen the movie: they decide to team up and take down the cello instructor who has been tormenting and raping them for the better part of their lives, and stop him from hurting anyone else.
Carrying out this plan means The Perfection includes an overdose of hallucinogenic drugs and the overuse of creepy, crawly bugs (still only the fifth most shocking thing in the movie, as a whole). But what exactly is going on with those visions of bugs? Here's some clarification, if you need it.
As we quickly learn in the movie, Charlotte’s (Williams) mother has just passed away after having a stroke some years before. No longer needed at home, she returns to company of Anton and Paloma (Steven Weber and Alaina Huffman), the heads of the prestigious music school Bachoff, where she studied before her mother got sick. Since her departure, another girl, Lizzie (Browning) has taken her spot as the “favorite” and though the two start a romantic relationship, it’s clear that Charlotte is not thrilled with Lizzie’s new status.
So, she decides to drug and mutilate Lizzie in order to take her down.
Charlotte’s mother was taking levetiracetam, an anticonvulsant drug used to treat seizures. It obviously requires a prescription, but Charlotte takes it from her mother’s medicine cabinet after she passed away. After a night of partying, Lizzie wakes up with a headache and asks for an ibuprofen. Instead of giving her an Advil, Charlotte gives her levetiracetam.
The side effects of levetiracetam are intense, and right on the pill bottle it says that “alcohol may increase side effects.” Lizzie has certainly had a fair amount of alcohol, and according to The Recovery Village, combining the two may increase: changes in mood or behavior, confusion, hallucinations, skin reactions, and also suicidal thoughts.
We don’t know this right away, though, and so at first we just assume that on a backpacking trip in remote China, Lizzie is seeing things, like bugs crawling around and in her. This is a horror movie, after all. Charlotte also “pretends” to see these things too, which leads Lizzie to believe what she’s imagining is in fact real: she sees maggots and spiders in her vomit and believes that there are bugs crawling under her skin. In a total panicked move, Lizzie (with Charlotte’s suggestion) decides to cut off her hand to stop the bugs. In a super twisted way Charlotte had planned this all along, knowing the side effects of the drug.
If you think this is absolutely insane, it is! But, Charlotte has her reasons for it. She knows Lizzle is being abused at Bachoff by Anton — just like she was years ago — and wants to stop it. In an effort to save Lizzie, she realizes that if she’s missing a hand, she can’t play the cello and keep performing for Anton. Lizzie (along with the other girls) has also been brainwashed by Anton, and as Charlotte explains “I knew you weren’t going to leave without a fight.” The only way to really rip her out of Anton’s grasp is to literally remove what she needs to play. Her hand. And the only way to get her to do something that drastic was with the help of an hallucinogen.
It’s weird, and twisted, and super gory, but it works. However, if we've learned one thing from The Perfection, it's that you should not mix alcohol with any prescription drugs.