The Movie Waffler New to Shudder - MURDER ME, MONSTER | The Movie Waffler

New to Shudder - MURDER ME, MONSTER

murder me monster review
In rural Argentina, a cop investigates a series of decapitations.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Alejandro Fadel

Starring: Tania Casciani, Esteban Bigliardi, Sofia Palomino

murder me monster poster

With his striking opening scene, writer/director Alejandro Fadel certainly grabs our attention. After some shots of blood spattered sheep, Fadel's camera holds on the image of a woman whose throat has just been slit as she vainly attempts to prevent her head from falling off her shoulders.

murder me monster review

Decapitated heads pile up in Murder Me, Monster, as the women of a small rural Andes community are preyed upon by someone or something that likes to separate their noggins from their necks. It's not a spoiler to say that it's a something rather than a someone that's responsible, as early on we see a woman attacked by what appears to be a long tentacle that wraps itself around her throat.

The woman in question was the married lover of police officer Cruz (Victor Lopez, who resembles a half-melted snowman and whose voice is so deep you might want to turn down your subwoofer to stop the cutlery from dancing in your kitchen drawers). Her husband, David (Esteban Bigliardi), is immediately identified as the prime suspect, given his mental issues, and he doesn't do himself any favours with his babbling about possessing a psychic connection with a mythical monster. Cruz is convinced that David isn't the killer and begins his own investigations, which lead him to believe that his little community is indeed home to something extra-terrestrial.

murder me monster review

Earlier this year we saw writer/director Jim Cummings mine a similar idea with much success in The Wolf of Snow Hollow. Both films use the backdrop of a possible creature menacing a wintry small town to deliver a character study of a troubled cop. But the two movies are hemispheres apart in both geography and tone. Where Cummings' film was a black comedy, Fadel plays his drama so straight that it ironically becomes difficult to take seriously. With its snowy setting, Murder Me, Monster plays like a South American cousin of Scandinavia's Nordic Noir movement, all moody shots of snow-capped mountains and taciturn, miserable inhabitants.

For a Latin-American example of how this approach can yield impressive results, take a look at Amat Escalante's The Untamed. But that movie had a big advantage over Fadel's in presenting us with intriguing, three dimensional characters. As a protagonist, Cruz is one of the least interesting I've come across in some time. He never seems all that bothered by the events surrounding him, even when his own lover becomes a victim. This may be Fadel's way of making us question if perhaps Cruz is himself the killer, but the monster is revealed so early that we know that simply isn't the case. I found myself compelled to reach into the screen and smack some life into Cruz. It's as though Fadel set himself the challenge of creating cinema's most boring leading man, and he comes pretty close.

murder me monster review

Murder Me, Monster gets by on its brooding visuals to a point, but eventually you realise that there's really very little going on beneath the surface here and it's essentially just a standard monster movie with a decidedly po-faced approach. It occasionally comes alive with some sub Twin Peaks quirkiness, like the oddball police chief who screams "Forensics" into the distance whenever he arrives on a fresh crime scene, and the influence of Lynch is audible in Alex Nante's lush and moody score. By the time the monster is revealed in all its b-movie glory, you wonder how we were ever expected to take any of this as seriously as the filmmakers would have liked.

Murder Me, Monster
 is on Shudder UK now.