Last night I had the privilege of watching an early screening of Jorge Ameer’s upcoming film Medusa, a contemporary Gothic-supernatural-horror/creature-feature based on the classical Greek tales of gorgons and gods.
The film stars Jeff Allen as Dr. Jack Perucci, a mythology professor who has spent years searching for an antique mirror that supposedly harbors the spirit of Medusa. When he is contacted by a mysterious witch doctor named Kao (played by director Jorge Ameer). Jack finally finds what he has been seeking. Unfortunately, the myth behind the mirror is all to real and Medusa starts to use all of her supernatural powers to haunt Jack–manipulating his surroundings and mind until he begins to lose his grip on reality–in an effort to take possession of his soul. Jack’s best friend, Steven Craig (Tom Struckhoff), uses hypnotherapy to unveil that Jack’s bloodline is key to his paranormal disruptions. And as Medusa becomes stronger and her grip on Jack tightens, Jack must face the evil entity once and for all in order to prevent his soul from being used as the vessel for Medusa’s resurrection.
When I interviewed Jorge Ameer and Jeff Allen last year at Wondercon in Anaheim, I’d never heard of either of them or their movie Medusa. But after talking with both of them, I could just feel how dedicated they both were to the film and I was definitely intrigued. Medusa is very story driven and has a lot of dialogue. The characters are never short on information to provide the audience. And while I’m no expert in Greek Mythology, everything about Medusa seemed to be pretty accurate. A few of the scenes felt as if they ran a little long with how much info is being given, but history buffs and fans of Medusa should be very satisfied.
One thing I did notice immediately was that the film was shot in 4:3 Full Screen instead of a more typical 16:9 Widescreen in addition to being shot on actual film (and later digitally transferred), giving the film a 80’s-90’s type feel.
Ameer does an interesting job of building tension and suspense throughout the film, with this persistent uneasy feeling that something bad could happen at any moment. When I interviewed Jorge, I mentioned to him that recent horror films just seem to miss the mark when it comes to actually being scary. He assured me that he was a big horror fan who grew up watching all the classic horror films and that Medusa would be a true cinematic horror film. “An Artistic cinematic value of story telling that leads to organic scares and tactics.” And the movie did manage to scare me a bit, and not with the sort of everyday jump scares that we’ve all come to know.
One thing I really did find interesting is when Jack finds himself being heavily haunted by Medusa there are certain times when his friends are talking around him and their dialog would be a bit distorted. Other times there would be a loud noise or two coming through the speakers. And in some scenes the camera angles were very different from what I normally see in a movie. During it all, it gives you a sense that something is indeed not right and you can feel the presence of something evil in the room with you or in the room with Jack. It really brings the viewer in and lets you experience a little of what Jack is going through.
The Director of Visual Effects on the film is Jeremy Vanneman, a CGI Artist who has worked on major motion pictures like Pacific Rim, Wolverine, Ironman 3, and Star Trek: Into Darkness, among others. With such an experienced professional on the filmm, I had a lot of high expectations and he did not disappoint. I won’t go into full detail but the effects used for the mirror and Medusa herself looked great and really helped elevate the movie overall.
And Ameer not only directed, wrote, and edited the film–he also plays the Witch Doctor Kao. Although Kao is not in the movie long, he definitely stood out the most. From the second you see him on screen, he is just bursting with energy. Kao is creepy and unsettling, but I couldn’t take my eyes away. And the way his character is all over the place, leaving you unsure whether or not he is there to help Jack, really set the tone for how uneasy I felt while watching.
Not being a big fan of horror films, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Medusa is very different from your typical horror film. It’s very story driven and doesn’t resort to cheap, predictable “jump scares” that it so many horror movies seem to embrace these days. And although I did get lost a few times in all the dialogue, and some of the scenes seemed to run a bit long in my opinion, overall Medusa is a very unique film unlike anything else I’ve seen. It may not be one of the best horror films I’ve seen, but it definitely won’t be one I forget.
Jorge Ameer’s Medusa will be coming to theaters later this year and makes it’s world premiere at the Cannes Film on May 17. Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube.
(Editor: Due to technical difficulties during as of the publishing of this review, the provided promotional images are temporarily unavailable.)