Quick Takes: Brightburn, The Perfection, Piercing

Brightburn is an anomaly: part origin film (that's rather weak), part slasher (that really works). It follows a familiar super man narrative with horror at the fringe that moves in and out of focus and with surprisingly effective gore. Yet the evil simmers without insight and never quite reaches that explosive or emotional crescendo. If it had a stronger point of view, it might have been a better movie – a good concept alone isn't enough.

The Perfection takes beats from revenge films and turns them on their side – unpredictably. With odes to Black Swan, Suspiria, and Oldboy, the tone wavers from segment to segment which are delineated with titles reminiscent to Lars Von Trier movies (but with less misogyny). It has solid acting from Allison Williams and Logan Browning but as usual Steven Weber is miscast as the sinister antagonist. The direction builds masterful moments of suspense giving you whiplash, especially in the first segment on a bus that ends with a definitive chop. You may never know exactly what kind of film you are watching but the madcap twists keep the pace brisk. And yet as it nears the final act, it suddenly stumbles – badly. What should have been a cathartic revelation feels flat and uncharacteristic of this wild ride. But by this time the major punches have already landed and it's bruises are effective and lasting.

Piercing is an accessibly weird, amusing, darkly macabre little film so wispy it practically cracks like nutty brittle. The performances are rapturous, Cronenbergian hallucinations pepper the antics, & the heavily styled sets & direction signifies an auteur at work.