If there’s one thing that unifies almost all modern-day horror fans, it is their desire to see something fresh and original. Hollywood isn’t giving us anything original, that’s for damn sure. Every once in a while Hollywood will take a chance on something kind of original–like say, INSIDIOUS. INSIDIOUS has an estimated budget of $1.5 million. If this film failed, no big loss to the studio. But, as we all know, this film didn’t fail and became a huge success and spawned two sequels (at the time of this writing). But Hollywood’s take away from films like INSIDIOUS aren’t that horror audiences want something new and risky, Hollywood just assumes, “Since audiences loved INSIDIOUS, let’s crank out 57 more INSIDIOUS clones and ride this out until audiences stop watching them.”
If horror fans want something truly original, they need to go to the indie horror scene. Of course not every film from the indie horror scene is original, but audiences are more likely to find originality there than in Tinseltown. Take, for example, MEDUSA. MEDUSA is written and directed by Jorge Ameer, and is his first foray into the horror/supernatural-thriller genres. But instead of making a tired old ghost story, slasher flick, or alien-runs-amok picture, Ameer went with something wholly original and based his story around the ancient Greek mythological creature of Medusa.
In MEDUSA, Jack (Jeff Allen), a professor of ancient mythology, tracks down a mirror that he believes is somehow connected to the myth of that crazy old gorgon, Medusa. He meets an evil witch doctor Kao (Jorge Ameer) who summons the ancient creature and then gives Jack the mirror. When he gets back home, Jack immediately begins to experience hallucinations, crazy dreams, and other odd things. With the help of his psychologist friend Steven (Tom Struckhoff) and his girlfriend Lana (Britt Rose), they unravel what’s happening to Jack and then try and prevent Medusa from using Jack’s body to re-enter our world.
There’s a lot of things to like about MEDUSA. The story is, as hinted above, original with enough going on in it to keep you guessing. There are a lot of references to ancient mythology, and I like Ameer’s approach to Medusa. We all know her as being the snake-haired broad who turns people to stone with just a glance, but Ameer focuses on Medusa as a seducer. It is interesting learning about Medusa and what her background is. It would have been easy for Ameer to just use Medusa as a snake-haired, turn-your-ass-to-stone villain, but instead he delves deeper into her mythology and comes up with something that was really unique and interesting.
One of MEDUSA’s other strengthens is the way it is filmed. Ameer has a fantastic eye and the nightmare and dream sequences he films are stylish with hints of surrealism. From the way Jack’s dreams are filmed, the audience gets to experience the same confusion and anxiety as Jack.
MEDUSA, though, isn’t a perfect film (as few films are). Some of the acting is spotty and the character of Lana isn’t that well written. Lana comes across as a love-sick puppy. If her character wasn’t in the film at all, nothing in the story would have changed. There was one other character, Oren (Jon Jacobs), that really ruined the flow of the narrative for me. Oren comes in towards the end of the film and is another expert on Medusa and serves to give a final push to the narrative. The problem with this character is that his big scene felt as though it was completely ad-libbed. For example, when Oren is explaining Medusa’s plan he says, “Medusa is going to try and enter into Jack’s dreams. He is going to seduce her.” Then he takes a pause and you can almost see the look on actor Jacobs’ face as he corrects himself by immediately saying, “She is going to seduce him.” In the same scene, Oren issues the warning, “There’s nothing we can do,” when talking about Jack’s face. He immediately follows this by adding, “There’s something you can do.” Mistakes happen, but the errors by Oren’s character in this pivotal scene really pulled me out of the moment and ruined what could have been a tense and suspenseful scene.
The good far outweighs the errors in MEDUSA, and this is a solid effort by Ameer. I loved the originality of the story and Ameer has a beautiful style. The dream sequences are surreal and nightmarish and shows that Ameer has some serious directing chops. Another go-around in the editing room and re-shooting Oren’s scene towards the end would strengthen this film immensely, but as it is, MEDUSA is a fun film that delves into and brings a frightening mythological creature to life. This is definitely one to check out.
Director: Jorge Ameer (& writer, executive producer, & editor)
Plot: 3 out of 5 stars
Gore: 0 out of 10 skulls
Zombie Mayhem: 0 out of 5 brains
Reviewed by Scott Shoyer