Mariana (Marie Oliveira) is part of a group of seemingly virtuous young women who sing in a Christian choir and spend their nights wandering the streets wearing masks. Believing they are doing God’s work, the women back off as Mariana gets a nasty look on her face when the victim fights. The incident cost Mariana her job at the plastic surgery clinic, leaving her scarred, and she decided to take a job at a hospital where all the patients were in a coma. As Mariana begins to look at the life she’s led and the choices she’s made, her strongly held beliefs are questioned.
‘Medusa’, from writer and director Anita Rocha da Silveira, is set in an unnamed city in Brazil and is a commentary on the rise of violence against women and girls in the country. Taking strong visual cues from Dario Argento, the film is a satire with elements of horror but never manages to strike the right tone between the two. There’s some commentary around religion and the radical way it can take people, and there’s an interesting juxtaposition between the young women’s beliefs and the horrible things they’re willingly doing. Silvira introduces an all-male group, affiliated with the same church, who commit similar assaults on all men without wearing masks. There is also much symbolism surrounding the legend of ‘Medusa’ and the parallels with Mariana.
The two main characters – Mariana and Michelle (Lara Tremoraux) – are fleshed out enough, but they are the only ones. All the supporting players could honestly be anyone and they wouldn’t change the story at all. I expected the film to delve deeper into the reasons behind the women’s actions, but it didn’t. Instead, he turns to follow Mariana, a young woman who is so frightened by the attack that she burns her own face, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to her. Believing that the woman is a victim of the gang she now belongs to, Mariana’s storyline goes into investigating that.
The biggest problem with ‘Medusa’ is the running time. The film runs over two hours and it really doesn’t need it. There’s easily about 30 minutes of bloat without much impact on the story Silveira wants to tell. Because of this bloat, the film misses the opportunity to be a slow-paced, zippy social commentary. Also, sometimes there is too much going on and the focus on less interesting subplots detracts from the main plot.
‘Medusa’ is a well made film with strong performances but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. With an uneven sound, the film doesn’t really decide what it wants to be. There’s a lot to appreciate, especially on the cinematography side, but I can’t help but wish the film leaned more towards the horror elements. Instead, ‘Medusa’ plays the story as a morality play and while there is some fun in that, I feel like it’s a bit of a missed opportunity.
take on Marie Oliveira, Lara Tremoraux, Joanna Medeiros, Felipe Frazao Director: Anita Rocha da Silveira Secretary: Anita Rocha da Silveira Certificate: 15 Duration: 127 min Released by: Peccadillo pictures Official date: 14Th July 2023