Cinema/TV, Film Notes

Film review – Muere, monstruo, muere (Murder Me Monster)

My notes on Muere, monstruo, muere (Murder Me Monster), which is out in the UK on December 4.

This mystery movie from Argentine writer-director Alejandro Fadel is hung up on symmetry and the rule of three, from the title (the three Ms motif becomes something of a mantra) through large-scale and throwaway imagery (a serrated mountainscape echoed on cop shoulder-patches) to an editing style whereby the viewer can often see the third shot in a sequence coming because it mirrors the first (typical 1-2-3 series: 1: a woman is sat between two men in a car, 2: she’s holding the hand of the man on her left, 3: she’s also holding the hand of the man on her right).  All these triad structures and infinity of mirrors effects are handy, since they’re what the audience gets to hold on to in a storyline that unfolds in a fragmentary manner, lurching from rural cop drama (a little like Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) into monster story after the manner of, say, Jeepers Creepers.  It  always comes back to its hangdog cop protagonist Cruz (Victor Lopez), who is in a three-way relationship with Francisca (Tania Casciani), the wife of David (Esteban Bigliardi), prime suspect in a series of decapitations.

The numbed madman is institutionalised after his wife is killed (the murderer leaves the head of the last victim at the site and takes the fresh one away) but escapes, prompting a manhunt in gorgeous snowy mountains.  David claims that a monster committed the crimes, and Cruz starts noticing forensic evidence – an unclassifiable tooth, odorous yellow saliva – on the corpses that hint he might be right … but who or what is the monster, which manifests in various forms (human shadow, penile worm, Lovecraftian hippoman) that might or might not be external to the human beings in the case or a projection of their evil.

The film is deliberately a puzzler, and works on creeping atmosphere and hints of cosmic strangeness rather than anything as tidy as a plot with an explanation or even a resolution.  Some will find the bafflement infuriating rather than bewitching, but it’s an intense piece of work, with extremely graphic yet beautiful gruesome imagery, one of the oddest monsters in film history, and a sense of the beauties and terrors of its breathtaking Andean setting.


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