Medusa Deluxe (2022)

Medusa Deluxe (2022)

An inspired, darkly funny whodunnit that, for all its flaws, is still infectiously enthusiastic



United Kingdom
Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Anita-Joy Uwajeh, Clare Perkins, Darrell D'Silva
101 min


The irony of a movie about hairdressers containing no discernible cuts isn’t lost on us.

What it's about

When a hairdresser is found in gory circumstances during a hairstyling contest, his backstabbing competitors comb through the mystery to identify the killer.

The take

The single-take conceit of this high-camp whodunnit set in the world of competitive hairdressing is not without its knots. Without the charity of a cut, it falls on the screenplay to pull us through the film’s murder mystery in real-time, and the result contains more than a few inorganic segues, despite the cast’s best efforts at smoothing things out. What’s more, when the mystery does eventually unravel, it feels unsatisfying in a way that even a heavy round of conventional editing couldn’t resolve.

And yet, with its very game cast; razor-sharp one-liners; inspired hairdos; Robbie Ryan’s wheeling, smartly perspective-hopping cinematography; and a wry chamber-piece premise — in the midst of a cutthroat contest, a senior stylist is found with his scalp removed — Medusa Deluxe still bristles with passion and wit. It’s abundantly clear that first-time director Thomas Hardiman and his crew are as ostentatiously die-hard about their film as the catty characters are about their hair design, and the sheer force of their enthusiasm is enough to zhuzh up even the plot’s flattest moments. A feature debut doesn’t often come without flaws, but it’s equally as rare for one to be as boldly ambitious or as irreverently fun as this.

What stands out

As anticlimactic as the eventual revelation of the truth is, it’s hard not to forgive Medusa Deluxe this shortcoming when it ends on a mid-credits scene this extravagant and electric. Under flashing lights, the cast reconvene on a blank stage in silver-sequined regalia — appropriate attire, as they spend the movie’s last few minutes getting down to a toe-tapping, hip-swinging ‘70s disco number. Whatever the film’s flaws, the cast have clearly put their heart and soul into its making, and the party vibe of its campily choreographed ending feels like a worthy celebration of those efforts — as well as a confirmation of just how all-in its one-to-watch director will go.

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