Wednesday, June 10

Medusa (Film Festival)

Dir: Jorge Ameer
Starring: Jeff Allen, Tom Struckhoff, Britt Rose, Jorge Ameer, and Katy Foley
109 Minutes

The name Medusa makes me immediately think of the 1981 Desmond Davis film “Clash of the Titans” and the beautifully grotesque rendering of the snake-headed woman who turns men into stone. It was a creepy and nightmarish monster during my youth. Director Jorge Ameer takes the Gorgon creature of Greek mythology as a point of focus in crafting a slow burning, narrative driven horror-thriller in the independent film “Medusa” that this year had its world premier at the Marche Du Film program at the Cannes Film Festival.

Jack (Jeff Allen) is a professor of mythology who has a particular interest in an antique mirror that he believes has mysterious powers. Jack ventures deep into the woods to meet Kao (Jorge Ameer), a witch doctor, who makes a deal to sell the enchanted mirror but only if Jack stays overnight. Jack agrees and is soon visited by strange occurrences and hallucinations, which continue once he returns to his apartment in the city with the mirror. Jack becomes ill, falling into a coma-like state during which he has nightmares influenced by Medusa. Steven (Tom Struckhoff), a close friend and psychologist, steps in to help Jack’s crumbling mental state; unfortunately things get worse as the myth of the Gorgon becomes closer to reality.

Ameer, who has been in the film industry for some time, has a clear inspiration for “Medusa” that feels shaped by the artistic horror films of the early 1970’s. Ameer offers a unique structure to this film; one that moves in and out of different designs assisted by some nicely rendered imagery. The structure of Jack’s visions has a purposefully strange composition.  They feel disorganized and muddled in a way that resembles the first few moments after waking up from a long slumber, it's an effective technique. The narrative is dialogue heavy, clearly a point of explanation and exposition meant to build the foundation of the myth. At a running length of nearly two hours this storytelling method becomes somewhat hindering, making a few scenes feel unnecessary. Because Ameer structures Jack’s visions/hallucinations with such purpose and filmmaking flair, it becomes easy to want less of the back and forth dialogue and more of the nightmare Jack experiences when he closes his eyes.

Mr. Ameer displays some great potential throughout “Medusa”. Crafting a film with large ambitions can be difficult, especially in the independent market, but Ameer finds creative ways to bring them to realization. In the first few minutes of the film the Medusa makes an appearance, it’s shadowy and simple and far more effective than what a big budget production would have computer generated. While “Medusa” has some rough edges, it smoothly displays what passionate filmmakers can accomplish with a little creativeness.

“Medusa” is currently on the Film Festival circuit

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