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MOVIES: Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon - Review

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Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is a loud, ultra-stylish and instantly memorable flick from Ana Lily Amirpour that doesn’t overstay its 106 minutes. Tightly paced, acting as a third film on the back of the brilliant A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and The Bad Batch (no, not the Star Wars series) – both clever, genre subversions of their own right – this takes a whole new twist on the horror genre, casting Burning breakout Jeon Jong-Seo as an escapee from an asylum – who wanders the streets of New Orleans ill-prepared for the new world that she finds herself in. She knows one thing about who she is – she has unique powers that can bend anyone who looks her in the eyes to her will, in a horrifying way that’s quickly exploited by Kate Hudson’s character, a dancer at a strip club, who sees her as an easy way to make money. However, the consequences quickly get higher and higher as the film progresses – and the stakes raise culminating in a finale that feels as appropriately tense.

Although Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon goes exactly where you’d expect it to go and offers you little surprise, it’s all about the style here. The soundtrack is phenomenal – a really eclectic curated selection of songs suits the tone of the movie perfectly, curated with precision and suiting the tone of the film in a way that fans of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night will appreciate, and those in tune with the way that Edgar Wright writes his movies will find themselves right at home here – there’s a similar broad visual tone. The streets of New Orleans are soaked in neon, steeped in rich mythology – and it’s always a treat when a movie goes full weird. Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon – as you’d expect from its title, does so admirably.

There are plenty of touches of humour that will win over a crowd – I saw this with a packed screen and it was a fantastic experience. It’s just such a surprise – not much backstory is given as to why the protagonist has her powers – instead, she’s just introduced with them and let loose on the streets of New Orleans – but then you don’t really need that much back story to go with it. It’s a refreshingly simple movie that leans into the cult horror aesthetic superbly, casting a reliable stable of actors like Kate Hudson, Ed Skrein and Craig Robinson to round out the supporting roles – all playing recognisable stereotypes that are given enough development to feel like real people that fit into the world of Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon without sacrificing its fast-moving pace that speeds through at a high adrenaline with a roaring success rate.

Don’t let this one pass you buy if you get the chance – you may be pleasantly surprised. Although that said - it's the kind of film where you know exactly whether you're going to like it or not going in, and if you get on Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon's wavelength, it will draw you in and keep you there.

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