The British mystery thriller, Medusa Delux, which marks the debut of director Thomas Hardima, is truly unique in its presentation of this dialogue-driven mystery, but it’s the end that doesn’t quite do it for me. As one can expect, the film uses the gossip-mongering feature of hairdressers to its advantage and creates a thrilling experience in trying to figure out who killed one of their competitors. The characters are all fantastic and hold their own, which is fascinating because there’s no real protagonist, just a bunch of people that we’re paying attention to at different points in time in the film. The one continuous shot effect that the film pulls off is incredible, and the cinematography carries much of this film. It’s a very artsy and kind of camp take on murder mysteries, which I personally have never seen, and that’s why it’s worth a watch.
What Happens In The Film?
Medusa Deluxe is a story about a hairdressing competition somewhere in England where one of the hairdressers ends up “scalped.” While waiting for the police to interrogate the other participants and their models, they begin to gossip amongst each other to figure out who really killed one of their own. When looked at like this, it’s a fairly simple tale, and the mystery element fizzles out somewhere at the 45-minute mark. The end is quite predictable, which is also why it fails to pack a punch as a thriller. What’s interesting is the kind of hairdressers we meet along the way to figuring out who may have murdered their friend.
It begins with Cleve, a heady one who has a tendency to be violent and had actually hit Mosca, the dead man, in the head some time back for messing with her assistant. It’s clear that she takes her hairdressing very seriously, and she figured she’d win the competition this time around. We have Divine, who ironically has recently found her way back to God, and she calls out Cleve for having assaulted the poor man. Her model is Inez, who is calm and collected but also really eager to know what happened. There’s Kendra, who everybody believes cheated her way into winning the competition earlier by paying off René, the boss. René seems to be in a panic amongst all of this because he’s the boss, and his competition would get canceled if nobody showed up thanks to a murder. Timba was Mosca’s model who found him dead, and lastly, there’s Etsy and Angie, also a couple of models who really want to leave.
Amid the chaos, Cleve continues working on Angie’s hair because she’s excited to show everybody her special fontange. On the other hand, René is struggling to figure out how to tell Mosca’s lover that he’s dead. He meets Gac, the security guard of the building, and sees him panicking. Earlier, Gac had borrowed some wet tissues to clean up some blood on his locker, and now he looks seriously drugged up. Kendra tries to calm René down as we find out that he was also once Mosca’s partner, but ever since he got with Angel, they have stopped. Angel finally comes to the building with their baby, Pablo, and René tells him the news. Angel enters the building and leaves Pablo in the care of René. He then carries the baby into the room that the hairdressers are waiting in. The baby is then shuffled between the hairdressers as if he, too, is the “gossip.” It becomes rather evident that none of these people could’ve killed someone because all they really care about is talking and hair. Mostly talking about hair and their other interests. Kendra tells Inez she wants to style her someday, Divine tries to cut Pablo’s hair for some religious thing, and René just moves around the building in a panic.
They realize that Angel is not with them, but he’s still in the building somewhere. They all suspect the “jealous lover,” but Angel seems not to be the type to remove the scalp of his lover. It turns out he’s actually a drug dealer and has a friend named Patricio who is helping him with the dealings. We see that Cleve is finally done with Angie’s hair, and Divine takes a picture of them. Angie goes for a smoke and accidentally sets the beautiful fontange on fire, and Patricio comes in and saves her. He’s completely shocked by the whole thing, but luckily he can get her to the paramedics on time. René, who has been searching for Angel, finally gets a call from him. Angel tells him about selling drugs in collaboration with Patricio to help Mosca. Patricio, on the other hand, tells Angel that he sold Mosca drugs.
Meanwhile, Gac begins to behave really strangely, and everybody just knows that he’s the guy who murdered Mosca. He takes painkillers and then ends up throwing up when everybody starts to badger him about why he killed Mosca. It turns out that Mosca and Gac were in love. The previous night they had gotten together, and Gac had heard all about Mosca’s model Timba’s hair from him. He tells them all that he didn’t kill the man, but he admits to having Mosca’s scalp in his locker. At the end of the movie, Angel attends the next competition, and we can assume a year has passed. Divine looks like she’s done an amazing job and even brought on a choir for her presentation. On the other hand, Angel meets Cleve, and she admits she’s been taking therapy to become a better person.
Angie’s face has burn marks, but she looks happy, and everybody seems to be back to normal. We hear a confession from Gac, then. He had wanted to see Timba’s hair after Mosca had described it and waited outside the door for many hours while Mosca was working on Timba’s hair. When Timba was hungry and saw Mosca looking sickly, she headed out for a break. Gac had entered then and saw a beautiful look in Mosca’s eyes that made him feel loved, but instead of coming toward Gac, Mosca had fallen to the ground. He had died a natural death, but Gac had seen his beautiful hair and realized he wanted to somehow keep it as a trophy. Yes, he had scalped Mosca, but the man had already been dead.
Medusa Deluxe is a very human film that is, in the end, a representation of the fact that sometimes you do weird things in love. Gac had been lonely, and Mosca had shown him love, so he wanted to cherish that forever. On the other hand, Angel left Pablo with his mother so he could move on from Mosca. The movie is very offbeat but never presumes its audience is stupid. Medusa Deluxe is a unique film that doesn’t ever feel boring or familiar, which is why it works so well. A fresh take by director Hardiman, who also imbibes humor in this very serious and anxious situation, which makes it more fun to watch too. If you’re into indie films that subvert genre expectations and love dialogue-driven plots, then give this one a try. I’d give Medusa Deluxe 3.5 out of 5 stars.