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[Fantastic Fest ’22] ‘Medusa Deluxe’ review: Fabulous looking mystery is basic AF

Wanting style over substance.

Medusa Deluxe sets up a fabulous story. An annual hairdressing competition is taking place. Tempers and tensions are as high as the creative hairstyles. When one of the competitors is found murdered, everyone is a suspect. Things begin with an animated conversation between Cleve (Clare Perkins, The Wheel of Time) and Divine (Kayla Meikle, After Life) over a variety of subjects. Yes, there has just been a murder, but there is also a competition to win and gossip to share. It is a funny exchange that sets up the idea that everyone is a suspect.

Medusa Deluxe quickly showcases that it is not going to simply be a movie of self-indulgences and loud personalities. There is lots of that, but the film sticks much closer to its mystery elements. While the conversations seem to be about everything but the crime, the story always keeps it foremost in the minds of those watching. 

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Style is more than just a backdrop, it is the ruling mantra. Shot in one lavish take, the film moves up, down, and around the salon, introducing characters and revealing secrets. It is a great way to give a peak into lives that are incredibly beautiful on the outside and darker at the roots.  Regrettably, the story cannot keep up with the overwhelming panache of the visuals. It remains interesting, but there is always a feeling that there should be something more. The constant glimpses at the over the top hairdos and characters only add to the fact the plot of Medusa Deluxe is cut and dry.

The entire moment is absolutely fabulous.

This is especially disappointing since the film is often so willing to lean into its excesses. This is most apparent in a moment near the end involving a choir and electronic music. The entire moment is absolutely fabulous. It looks like Medusa Deluxe is finally going to live its best life before director Thomas Hardiman pulls back to a reveal that is basic AF. 

Medusa Deluxe is screening at Fantastic Fest

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