The Perfect Husband!
(a.k.a. What Lies Within)
Director: Lucas Pavetto
Release Date: July/26/2016
Runtime: 84 minutes
Artsploitation Films, Dea Film, Nedioga Fulm, Romano Film Production
The Perfect Husband begins like many other movies showcasing a married couple as the main characters (depending on the genre, naturally). Assaulting the viewer with a montage of framed photos amidst video footage shot on I would assume a lavish vacation it would appear that Viola (Gabriella Wright – Transporter Refueled) and Nicolai, an Italian name if ever there was one, are a picturesque couple gleefully happy, young and blessed with looks befitting any given cover of Vogue magazine. Obvious too is the fact that Viola is ‘expecting’, the couple could not, it seem, be any happier.
The audience soon discovers the reasoning behind Viola’s malady and begin to empathize with her situation, her trauma and applaud her husband’s decision to partake in some quality time away to help clear and put her mind at ease “…what happened is not our fault”.
Although one can’t help but ponder on if there’s a lurking ‘presence’ a number of Nicolai’s movements belie a secretive nature or issues with trust, one can only wonder if one of the two has urges, or an addiction brought on by the apparent awkwardness between them.
Alas, something else is amiss. Viola is jumpy and of the mind that someone is watching her. In an early scene (where she leaves Nicolai roadside) she searches for a patch of suitable terrain to alleviate the demands of bodily functions a piano score adds menace to the films sudden ominous nature and considerably elevates tension. And although I’m sure she couldn’t hear the musical accompaniment she flees and upon returning to the car demands to know if Nicolai was spying on her.
The tension abates somewhat with a slight rekindling of romance (a jig, a kiss but no oral… wait what?) when the couple reach their destination, a secluded though decent enough looking cabin in the woods (stop me if you’ve read this before elsewhere, or even here on this very site in another very recent review).
In the next few scenes, however, Viola manages to submit to the allure of unconsciousness and the wiles (!?) of a local Ranger after she careens headfirst into a tree (more an immature sapling really). At this point the viewer is getting an intimate understanding of what it must feel like to be in Nicolai’s position, Viola is stifled, unpredictable and seething with a multitude of inner demons, in essence what can only be described as a nightmarish Bi polar disorder caresses the screen from one scene to the next.
A truer statement has never been uttered in a scene that unfolds revolving around flower petals, hand cuffs and an infidelity punishment not seen since the middle ages.
Later in scenes involving a surprised but easily excited gypsy type, visions of a hemorrhaging fetus in the woods, a disciplined Ranger (Carl Wharton – slated to appear in a 2016 adaption of Wuthering Heights) and an ax the films nears a bloody climax leaving the audience wondering what the hell actually transpired in the last eighty-five minutes they’ve just witnessed.
Although the intricacies of the plot are explained effectively, in a vivid kaleidoscope of brutality before the movies climax, the audience might still be pondering upon whom it was who accepted the trauma associated with still birth in the sanest of manner and whom descended into led the charge into a swirling vortex of madness as certain decisions are so far out of left field as to be wildly outrageous.
“…I’m doing this for us…”
Although as in real life there’s no explaining acts that love will drive one to do. Till death does us part is an adage that explains this feature adequately without giving the premise away.
The Perfect Husband is an excellent example of a ‘mind-fuck-film’ oftentimes in my opinion bringing to mind a brutal European psychological masterpiece by name of Switchblade Romance (aka Haute Tension). The writers and production team in The Perfect Husband have managed to showcase serenity and an idyllic landscape (the perfect getaway it would seem) in direct juxtaposition to uncontrollable fury that manifests following the emergence and onset of uncontrollable emotions such as jealousy, rage, all-consuming paranoia wrapped exquisitely in a bi-polar bundle that descend to yet worse scenarios.
The effects displayed throughout this film are commendable, blunt, and quite unexpected. In several instances practical effects go far and beyond what one may actually expect bordering on grotesque, which fans of extreme and cult films may be able to fully appreciate (I certainly can).
Overall I have only a few gripes but still have a huge respect for The Perfect Husband, seriously where else might one be able to find stunning examples of stereotypical married bliss dialogue (insert winky face here), such a wildly deviant meaning for the term “Good Samaritan”, several darkly humorous ‘money shots’ (of sorts) and unpredictable yet surprisingly effective use of the infamous ‘Donkey Punch’. And I haven’t even mentioned an Italian lullaby crooned to perfection (it had me reaching for my shirt buttons as my fiancé raised her eyebrow) and a nearly completed list of what-not-to-do-in-a-horror-movie decisions chosen by Viola (an unforgettable character and role!).