MEDUSAE Movie Review: A Triumph in Mystery and Magical Realism: MEDUSAE as a modern retelling of the pre-Hispanic myth of the Bicolano goddess Haliya is a triumph in magical realism. The film attempts to link the past with the present as it unfolds with modern topics that are close to a filmmakers’ position: problematic relations within artist families, and within a larger scope of society it’s almost an exposΓ© of how local filmmakers treat their own subjects in documentary filmmaking.

Medusae Movie Trailer

While filming on the disappearances of children in an isolated coastal area, the filmmaker and young mother Alfa (Desiree del Valle) tags along her son Luni (Carl Palaganas) to work as her sound recordist. Their apathetic investigation is halted when Luni himself disappears. Desperately searching for her son, the mother then stumbles upon a previous project in the same locale about a mysterious cult that “summons” children for a bountiful harvest of sea goods – faithful to the mythology of Haliya, the Baconaoa and the moon.

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medusae movie review

Medusae Movie Review

A general poeticism looms in Pam Miras’ treatment of this rather simplistic premise. Masterfully weaving narratives of an idyllic myth, a cult in a distant locality, scientific explanations of the reproduction of medusae jellyfish, and the central tale of a mother and her son, it is all enveloped in unsettling mystery. But it doesn’t frame the whole cult-inflicted town as a drowning quicksand for urbanites who might’ve neglected rural life. The rural setting is not othered as peculiar outcasts or backward degenerates.

medusae movie trailer

While the situation in the island may seem peculiar at first, real-life desperation of small scale fishers almost blurs any vindication that these rituals are only done in the name of age-old tradition. Unlike the protagonist who would soon reveal her own selfish intentions in the island, Miras lets the audience emphatize with the locals who collectively accept the cult pratice of abduction as an understandable band-aid solution to both socio-economic and cultural circumstances.

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Much like Miras’ PASCALINA and her short films, MEDUSAE is a revelatory second look at what society deems strange, thrillingly subverting it for empathy and understanding.

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