Murder Me, Monster

 

starstar

 


Fans of arthouse horror may welcome this Argentinian monster mash, but it really is too silly for words.

   

Murder Me, Monster

Bring me the head of Guillermo del Toro: Jorge Prado and Víctor Lopez 

  

Alejandro Fadel's Argentinian horror film boasts many things, but credibility is not one of them. It is one of the most laughably misjudged movies in recent memory. In spite of an absurdly gruesome opening shot, the enterprise quickly acquires a note of lugubrious social realism. Set in a windswept backwater somewhere at the foot of the Andes, Murder Me, Monster exudes a chilly tone that recalls the po-faced black comedy of Icelandic cinema. Perhaps its best asset is the presence of Víctor Lopez, whose weathered, indigenous features dominate the screen. Lopez’s deep, almost demonic voice is an otherworldly thing. He doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to. He is one long reaction shot.

 

A headless body has been discovered at a remote farmstead and the barked command “Forensics!” swiftly becomes the film’s catchphrase. Cruz (Lopez) is put in charge of the investigation, a position that proves a tad discomforting. The chief suspect, David (Esteban Bigliardi), is the husband of Cruz’s mistress, Francisca (Tania Casciani). The tender, private moments between Cruz and Francisca are startlingly intimate and real. She coaxes him to dance naked for her, which he obligingly does. He likes to dance. But when she, too, loses her head, the film loses the plot. While it clings to a semblance of naturalism, a shift in tone proves fatal. An air of David Lynch on diazepam staggers sluggishly into Terry Gilliam territory, with a nod to Guillermo del Toro. Yet Fadel, who co-scripted Peter Webber’s Colombian Pickpockets (2018), keeps the tempo unhurried in the misguided belief that he is building a suspenseful head of steam. Alas, the film is as terrifying as a piñata bash in slow-motion.

 

In its favour, Murder Me, Monster is consistently atmospheric and resolutely distinctive, with some striking visuals (the Andes are not to be sniffed at). And the acting is dependably low-key and naturalistic, so that when the chief of police (Jorge Prado) – replete with big words and wisdom – starts to massage Cruz’s scalp while warning of the horrors of pantophobia (“the fear of everything”), the scene retains a sense of plausibility. It’s daft, but not as we know it. The problem, though, is that we are short-changed any genuine scares and the black comedy – if it is that – is just not funny. It’s certainly a curio and no doubt some arthouse horror fans will latch onto it. Good luck to them.

 

Original title: Muere, monstruo, muere.

 

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Víctor Lopez, Esteban Bigliardi, Tania Casciani, Romina Iniesta, Sofia Palomino, Francisco Carrasco, Stéphane Rideau, Jorge Prado.

 

Dir Alejandro Fadel, Pro Agustina Llambi Campbell, Alejandro Fadel, Fernando Brom, Julie Gayet, Antoun Sehnaoui, Nadia Turincev, Jean Raymond Garcia, Benjamin Delaux, Édouard Lacoste, Dominga Sotomayor and Omar Zúñiga, Screenplay Alejandro Fadel, Ph Julian Apezteguía and Manuel Rebella, Pro Des Laura Caligiuri, Ed Andrés P. Estrada, Music Alex Nante, Costumes Florencia Caligiuri.

 

La Unión De Los Ríos/Rouge International/Uproduction/Cinestación/Frutacine/Arte/Cofinova/ Ajimolido Films/Maravilla Cine/Quanta Post/Mikros-Anti-Worlds Releasing.

109 mins. Argentina/France/Chile. 2018. Rel: 4 December 2020. Available on Curzon Home Cinema. No Cert.