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Medusa Deluxe (BFI London Film Festival 2022)

3 min read

Murder mysteries are a favourite theme in cinema, this genre is having a resurgence. But instead of the same old formulas being used, filmmakers and writers are regenerating how a story unfolds. This is not to say the tried-and-true methods are long forgotten or disliked, but audiences are always looking for something fresh. Writer and director has found a new way to tell a story. Keeping us enthralled and on the edge of our seats with a collective and intriguing characters, an intimate view and a very dis concerting score. is more than just a hairdressing story.

On the eve of a Regional Hairstyling Competition, one of the stylists is found dead and more disturbingly, scalped. His fellow stylists, models, friends and boyfriend all speculate what could have happened and who could have been responsible while exercising their own personal issues and worries. As the evening turns to night, tensions rise and secrets are revealed all leading towards the painful truth.

From the beginning of the film, the tone, atmosphere and snippets of the off screen gruesome are laid out for the audience. The opening scene is filled aggression, horror and malice, all through speech, which actually is more effective here. Although labelled as a murder, the mystery of just how the stylist died is questioned throughout. But this is just one part of this off beat thriller. Discussions about the art of hairstyling and what it means to the stylists, and to an extent the models as well, are interwoven with the overarching narrative. With each conversation and interaction, we are given an insight to the characters

This deconstructed murder mystery has all the elements of a claustrophobic thriller.  With each eerie soundtracked note following characters around the often too quiet corridors and stairwells, the tension builds up every second regardless of what is in the scene. Filmed as if a seamless one shot, the camera follows characters through narrow closed off locations. There are moments that takes place away from the prying lens of the camera, but it still feels as if we are right in the middle of the tense action and not just observing.

The cast are incredible and draw us in to this mystery, their world and even their own personal affairs. However, with a such strong first and second act, the end does feel anticlimactic. This is due to the direction the story takes and the slightly convoluted connections between a couple of the characters. The leap forward in time also makes the end disjointed, although the passing of time is cleverly constructed on screen, making it look like there were no cuts to this section. Thankfully, a fantastic upbeat dance sequences in the credits featuring the entire cast lightens the mood but unfortunately doesn't make up for the ultimate end to the mystery.

Despite story ending qualms, Hardiman and his cast have created a unique take on a well-worn genre that will entice anyone who loves to explore something new and those who appreciate extravagant hairstyles.

Medusa Deluxe will be screened at the BFI London Film Festival 2022