By Sammi Brennan
Ambitious, admirably-produced erotic thrillers are hard to come across nowadays. It seems that jump scares are just as predictable as plot lines. Tie in some eye candy and low and behold, the outcome is The Perfect Guy, cast with an array of pretty faces squandering their talent. It’s got the sex appeal, but that’s about as appealing as the film gets.
Meet Leah, a successful businesswoman who has just recently broken up with her long-time boyfriend, Dave (Morris Chestnut). It takes about five minutes for the pair to end their two-year relationship, which is portrayed very bluntly and not at all realistically. At a friend’s party, Dave displays signs of being a good father, which reminds Leah how much she yearns to get married and have kids. Dave is not too keen on the whole “settling down” idea and wants to be patient with it, which Leah already knows, yet she decides this is the last straw.
Fast forward two months and Leah comes across Carter (Michael Ealy), a good Samaritan who steers Leah away from bar creeps and lets her take his coffee when he ordered first. Initially, Carter is “the perfect guy,” the type who can take Leah’s father to a baseball game but also have spontaneous sex in the bathroom of a reggae club. Carter develops a sense of protection toward Leah, which ultimately turns hostile when he nearly kills a gas station employee for talking to her. Traumatized, Leah hastily ends things, which Carter is not pleased about. He grows obsessive and begins stalking her, just in time for her ex-boyfriend to come back into the picture. That’s when The Perfect Guy finally picks up some speed.
Most familiarize Michael Ealy with his more innocent, light-hearted roles in films such as Think Like a Man (2012), About Last Night (2014) and Seven Pounds (2008). However, this past spring, Ealy proved he has a menacing, sadistic side to him, explored in FOX’s The Following. His disturbing role stunned Ealy fans, which is why The Perfect Guy is a waste of his potential. It seems that in his one season of The Following, he has learned to use his facial features to the fullest, glaring his brilliant blue eyes and using his pink lips to flash a sinister smirk. Even Dave acknowledges Carter’s expression, threatening that he would wipe the “smug look” off Carter’s face permanently. Initially, hearts are conflicted as Carter pleads for Leah to take him back. His guiltless stare influences the viewer to momentarily forget his guilt. He plays his love-struck audience like an instrument. If anything, the film should have focused on his deep hostility rather than his possessiveness. Cut the scene where he puts Leah’s toothbrush in his mouth and have him shed some blood–he has the experience! It’s just too bad that even Ealy’s acting could not save the film.
Morris Chestnut’s character is flat and lacks any remote depth. He’s a character that desperately needed to be wanted back into the picture by the audience for more than just his bare torso and charming smile. Leah is a conundrum of a character. Initially, she behaves as a passive victim and seeks out the police, but a sudden change of personality will leave the viewer wondering, “where was that tough, daunting character an hour ago?” Her choices are eye-rolling, as time after time she insists on staying in the house alone, knowing she has a stalker. Even after Carter releases a sex tape of Leah and Dave, making it evident that there is a camera in the house, Leah, for some inexplicable reason, continues to live there.
The Perfect Guy concentrates too heavily on eroticism and not enough on the actual “thrilling” aspect of its concept. It lacks any plot twists. The few jump scares are humdrum and there is a superfluous amount of shower scenes. It’s a “steamy” thriller, we get it. The eerie music tries but fails to engage the viewer, not to mention that the most chilling scenes of the film are given away in its trailer. The dialogue is spiteful, with the few bits of comedic relief only stirring laughs due to how outrageous the interactions are.
Overall, the film sacrifices creativity for sex appeal. It’s predictable, lackluster and fails to establish any sort of connection between the audience and the main character. Sure, The Perfect Guy is great to look at visually, but that’s about all the film has going for it.