Perfect Sisters (2014) Review

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I saw a trailer for Perfect Sisters a few months ago and was intrigued enough by it to give it a watch when the opportunity presented itself, and with Netflix adding the film to its vast library, I figured there was no time like the present, and gave it a shot. Directed by Stanley M. Brooks (The Grim Sleeper) with a screenplay by Fab Filippo and Adam Till, it meshes high-school drama with thriller and some black comedy.

Sandra (Abigail Breslin) and Beth Anderson (Georgie Henley) are high school students who live at home with their young brother Bobby (Caleb & Braden Pederson) and their mother Linda (Mira Sorvino). Linda is an alcoholic whose selfish behaviour and reckless decisions put her children in danger, danger which heightens when she brings a man into the home, named Steve (James Russo), who is physically and emotionally abusive to Linda and eventually to Beth and Bobby. Sandra and Beth, along with their two friends Ashley (Zoe Belkin) and Justin (Jeffrey Ballard), sketch up a plan to kill their mother, which would, in their minds, allow them to get insurance money to live while their younger brother lived with his paternal father. Initially thinking it’s a joke, Ashley and Justin soon realize that Sandra and Beth are serious about their plans, and so the four of them take steps to staging an accidental death for Linda that would see her drunkenly drowning in the bathtub. With the teenage girls desperately and immaturely trying to find a way out of the destructive environment they find themselves in, things go from dark to even-darker and they begin to see their drastic plan through.

This film immediately reminded me of Thirteen (2003) but with poorer performances from the cast involved and a less believable plot, even though this is apparently based on a true case. I guess “based on” can be stretched pretty wide and far nowadays. Part high-school coming of age drama, part emotional abuse drama and part dark thriller, the movie attempts to be a few things all at once and, in my view, it fails. Abigail Breslin, sadly, has worsened as an actress since her childhood performance in Little Miss Sunshine some years ago. Showing promise a few years ago, I would hope she improves again and makes some better decisions regarding the films she works on in the future, because I found her to be plastic and awkward here, almost looking embarrassed to be playing the character of Sandra. Sorvino and Russo stole the show, but with Sorvino’s lack of dialogue and the two’s lack of screen-time overall, it wasn’t enough to save what essentially became a messy and poorly executed film that pushed stereotypical teenage life with awful acting and not-exactly-great dialogue.

I don’t tend to hate on a film if it offers something entertaining, and I’ll gladly point out that while there was plenty I disliked about this movie, it was enjoyable at times and I watched it until the end, something I have failed to do with some truly terrible films in the past. The trailer deserves credit, because it made the movie look much, much better than it turned out to be, but I still imagine some people might like this. I think, perhaps, that if you are unfamiliar with the various other films that have come through the pipeline over the years that do much of the same thing as this one, only better, you might find more to enjoy here. Tedious, sluggish and often cringe-worthy, Perfect Sisters tries but fails to be a unique thriller, and is likely to become the film-equivalent of a penny that falls between the cushions of the couch, never to be spoken of, or looked at, again.

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