• Perfect Husband, The



    Released by: Artsploitation Films
    Released on: July 26th, 2016.
    Director: Lucas Pavetto
    Cast: Gabriella Wright, Bret Roberts, Carl Wharton, Tania Bambaci, Daniel Vivian
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie:

    Argentinian born Lucas Pavetto moved to Italy as a child where he made a few short films, including Il Marito Perfectto, and then moved on to features – the latest of which, to be released domestically at least, is 2014’s The Perfect Husband, also known as What Lies Within.

    The story follows Viola (Gabriella Wright) and her husband Nicola (Bret Roberts) whose marriage has been more than a little rocky as of late, caused in no small part from Viola’s pregnancy not ending with the happy, healthy baby that they’d hoped it would. In order to try and put the spark back into things, they decide that a romantic getaway to remote cabin in the woods is in order.

    From the start, we know something is off. Viola hurts herself while hiking and hits on the kindly park ranger who shows up to help her. This causes Nicola to become even more aggressive than he was before, which for most women would already be aggressive enough. He’s definitely suffering from some sort of alpha male syndrome. That night, over dinner, their discussion turns into an argument and that argument becomes heated, culminating in a bad idea – Nicola drags his wife to the bedroom and cuffs her to the headboard. He then proceeds to beat the ever loving shit out of her.

    Fearing for her life, and understandably so, she escapes and books it as fast as she can into the woods. That park ranger she ran into earlier shows up again – and then he rapes her. Nicola catches up to them and kills the bastard… and somehow things manage to get a whole lot worse from there.

    However, detailing how and why they get worse would be a disservice to anyone going into the film blind, as there is a decent and reasonably heady twist to all of this. In the last half of the picture, Pavetto takes what starts off as a kinda-sorta rape revenge picture and turns it into something different, or at least he tries to. The nasty, grisly exploitative elements are still definitely there – Viola is really put through the ringer here and the film makes sure we see it all in plenty of graphic detail. Where Pavetto takes us, however, is into some fairly metaphorical territory and whether or not you feel that the finale is appropriate or even effective is going to depend almost entirely on how you react to the more extreme content of the movie. Theoretically, this should make us all very uncomfortable – and it does – but the finale make you question why we were subjected to it and why Viola obviously feels the way that she does about what has put her into this situation the first place. Has she simply snapped? It’s hard to feel for her as she’s not a particularly nice character. Granted, she hardly deserves what she goes through and you could argue that making her less than ‘nice’ is simply realistic, as not everyone is nice. Nicola is a bastard – or is he? Again, motivation is dicey here, which makes the big finish more than a little questionable. But hey, even if you don’t agree with whatever supposed message is in here, at least it’ll get you thinking.

    As far as technical merits go, the film is well shot and the cinematography is effective. The score is good, the lighting is stylish and aside from a few effects pieces that look a little too digital, the overall look and sound design is just fine. The performances are convincing on a physical level but having the cast perform in English might have been a misstep, a lot of what they do here comes across as overacting and makes things feel less sincere than they should have. Shooting the performers in their native Italian and subtitling the picture probably wouldn’t have made this as commercially viable but when you’re dealing with content this nasty and rape-centric, commercial viability would seem to be an afterthought rendering the language issue a moot point.

    This one had potential. There’s an interesting idea here even if the execution is lacking. Had the ending not come across as rushed and forced feeling as it is, maybe the impact would have been different. As it stands now, the point gets lost in all the chaos, though to the movie’s credit it is fairly disturbing at times and does offer up a few moderate scares.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Perfect Husband arrives on Blu-ray in a beautiful AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Although much of the film takes place at night in fairly dim light, colors are still really nicely reproduced here, especially the day time scenes that take place outside or in properly lit interiors. Skin tones look good, detail is consistently impressive and black levels are nice and strong. The image is free of any compression artifacts or obvious edge enhancement and shadow detail is pretty solid. This is a really strong picture, the movie looks really good on Blu-ray.

    An English language Dolby Digital track is provided in 5.1 Surround Sound and while the levels are a little low, once you turn the volume up a bit things are fine. The performers are, for the most part, Italian so they have moderately heavy accents here - this might put some off but they’re easily discernible for the most part. There are no problems with any hiss or distortion to note, there’s a reasonable amount of depth here and the score sounds good.

    The disc includes the aforementioned short film version of the movie, Il Marito Perfectto, a thirty-eight minute feature that was made in 2011. The acting isn’t as good in this version and the technical values not as strong but it is interesting to see how the feature version took shape with this early run. Also included here is just over twenty minutes of behind the scenes footage that gives us a feel for what it was like on set and shows the cast members getting along much better than they do in the movie! Trailers for a few other Artsploitation Films properties, menus and chapter selection round out the supplements.

    The Final Word:

    The Perfect Husband is effectively unsettling even if the twist ending leaves you with more questions than answers and leaves you with no choice but as to question why it would go where it goes in the first place. Those who really get into the confrontational, nasty side of horror will appreciate this more than your average viewer. Artsploitation’s Blu-ray does present the picture in solid shape and with a few decent extras.
    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!