This weekend, thriller The Perfect Guy will open in competition with M. Night Shyamalan's comeback The Visit — two dark, twisty, potentially terrifying films. But where the latter is marketed as a straight horror flick, The Perfect Guy is a bit more psychological. It opens with the breakup of a long-term couple played by Sanaa Lathan and Morris Chestnut. Lathan's character, reeling from the end of her relationship, meets a charming, worldly stranger (Michael Ealy) who may not be quite as genuine as he seems. Though their relationship seems headed for success, Ealy's character soon reveals a darker side of his personality — one that's definitely obsessive and perhaps violent. So how scary is The Perfect Guy ?
Where The Visit toes the line between horror and comedy, The Perfect Guy finds its equilibrium between thriller and romance. There's no slashing (though there is a monster — in the form of Ealy), but there's a whole lot of tension in between the sexy-sex scenes, and even the occasional chill incorporated into the romantic bits (a gorgeous red rose with a menacing note left on a windshield, for example). Without over-the-top gore, The Perfect Guy is absolutely manageable (and could make a great date-night film, just saying).
However, the cast has gone on the record about the parts that they found most terrifying, and if the people behind the scenes thought the movie got creepy, there's no telling how audiences might react.
In one paralyzing scene that's hinted at in the trailers, Ealy's character, gone full-blown stalker, hides under Lathan's bed. "Who is going to go home after the movie and not check under the bed after that scene?" he told USA Today. "Just in case. Everyone checks under the bed." Ealy also confessed to be somewhat taken by scary movies — after the 1992 film Candyman in which the titular bogeyman could be summoned by an incantation, he still won't look in the mirror and say "Candyman" three times.
Lathan told Essence that she's been on the receiving end of stalking much like her character. Just three months before shooting on the film began, an overly avid fan turned into a stalker, hiding out in her laundry room before she took out a restraining order on him. She said she didn't have to search too deeply to find the place her performance came from, having so recently experienced first-hand the fear engendered by a stalker.
Director David M. Rosenthal is pretty new to the thriller genre, too. He's best known for his comedies, though his most recent effort A Single Shot is a grittier, noir-inspired film than his previous work. So when Rosenthal ventures into untested waters, it's likely that he won't go full-blown terror-fest on us. (Fingers crossed.) Essentially, even if you don't have the stomach for much in the way of jumps, The Perfect Guy will probably still suit you just fine.
Images: Screen Gems (3)