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[CFF ’21] ‘Black Medusa’ review: Numbing thriller has great style but no substance

Female revenge?

Black Medusa goes all in within the first few minutes. Nada meets a man in a bar. After he becomes drunk, she takes him to his home. Once there, she violently sexually assaults him. It is a queasy scene that will leave audiences shifting uncomfortably. Regrettably, the numbing effect of the beginning salvo takes away from the rest of the film.

The story follows Nada over nine nights. As the plot progresses, she becomes increasingly violent. Black Medusa seems to be a female revenge thriller. Early on, there is a dreamlike sequence that hints to her motivation. That is one of Black Medusa’s most frustrating problems. Nada is held up as an avenging angel that should be cheered. Yet, it is not clear what she is seeking revenge for. There is nothing wrong with letting the audience work things out, but the level of violence committed by Nada deserves something a little more concrete.

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[CFF '21] 'Black Medusa' review: Numbing thriller has great style but no substance

The film is very stylish. The seedy bars and neighborhoods Nada patrols have a run down feel. Even the crowded dance floors look dirty and uninviting. There are long tracking shots that give a dangerous feel for the area. That being said, some of the scenes tend to drag. It is as Black Medusa is trying to force the tension instead of letting it develop naturally.

Ultimately, it seems like the film is willing to be based on its captivating style and its vague message. There is no denying how good Black Medusa looks and sounds. Trying to figure out what it is trying to say is a little more difficult. Using sexual assault as revenge for sexual assault is demeaning towards victims while the sheer brutality is never justified.

The Chattanooga Film Festival takes place from June 24 – June 29

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