The most inter­est­ing thing about watch­ing hor­ror films from for­eign coun­tries is see­ing how film­mak­ers draw upon indige­nous folk tales and myths to add a region-speci­fic touch to famil­iar gen­re arche­types.  Medousa is an inter­est­ing exam­ple of this process in action, with Greek writer/director George Lazapoulos weav­ing the leg­end of Medusa into a strange tale that mix­es fam­i­ly dra­ma, crime sto­ry and super­nat­u­ral hor­ror.  It’s also worth noth­ing that the direc­tor dou­bles down on the unique nature of his sto­ry with a dis­tinct­ly art­sy approach to gen­re con­cerns.

Medousa has an intrigu­ing sto­ry struc­ture in which a vari­ety of seem­ing­ly dis­parate sto­ry threads grad­u­al­ly make their way to a finale that ties them all togeth­er.  An extend­ed pro­logue sets up the child­hood of Perseas (Thanos Amorginos), a trou­bled boy whose moth­er mar­ries into a fam­i­ly with a reclu­sive and eccen­tric sis­ter.  Medousa-dvdYears lat­er, he has a become a club own­er who moon­lights as a thief.  He and his crew go on a mis­sion to rob a home that hap­pens to be owned by the eccen­tric sis­ter from years gone by.  Meanwhile, the local police are inves­ti­gat­ing bizarre inci­dents where stone repli­cas of dis­ap­peared men sud­den­ly pop up all over town…

The result is tru­ly its own ani­mal.  Medousa takes its time but feels hyp­notic instead of dull.  Lazapoulos dis­plays a min­i­mal­ist style and a dead­pan-quirky sense of humor as he lays out the threads of the sto­ry, get­ting the audi­ence to lean for­ward as the mys­tery is teased out and the super­nat­u­ral ele­ments slow­ly rise to the fore.  It all pays off nice­ly in a final act that has a mod­ern-day mytho­log­i­cal bat­tle, a bit of sur­prise nudi­ty and a fun twist end­ing.  To his cred­it, Lazapoulos pays off all the story’s ele­ments and nev­er over­plays the mytho­log­i­cal ele­ments.

The director’s film­mak­ing style is sim­i­lar to his script­ing style, going for a low-key, min­i­mal­ist approach to visu­als and per­for­mance.  It’s a smart choice because it makes the loop­ier ele­ments of the sto­ry stronger by han­dling them in a mat­ter-of-fact style.  Performances are pret­ty solid for an ama­teur cast, with Amorginos mak­ing an inter­est­ing per­for­mance as the brood­ing lead char­ac­ter.   It’s also inter­est­ing to note the film has indie movie-style rock score that gives the final moments a bit of spaghet­ti west­ern atmos­phere.

In short, Medousa might be a lit­tle too off-the-beat­en-path for the blood-and-thun­der hor­ror crowd but more adven­tur­ous view­ers will find its sub­tle and unusu­al approach reward­ing.

DVD Notes: Mondo Macabro res­cued this title from obscu­ri­ty for a new DVD release.  The anamor­phic trans­fer looks solid, reflect­ing the orig­i­nal 1.66:1 ratio and hav­ing a nice lev­el of detail for an SD pre­sen­ta­tion.  As for extras, there is a mak­ing-of piece (34:42) that is basi­cal­ly a sit-down with film­mak­er George Lazapoulos.  He dis­cuss­es how he got into film­mak­ing, how he came up with the idea, the lengthy process of putting the film togeth­er and his love of Dario Argento’s work.  There is also a chat with Amorginos (9:54), who looks back with bemused humor at how he learned act­ing on-the-job work­ing on Medousa.  A short, art­sy trail­er and the reli­ably col­or­ful Mondo Macabro pre­view reel round things out.