On the twelfth day of Halloween: MONA LISA AND THE BLOOD MOON (2021)
Ana Lily Amirpour took the horror community by storm with her extraordinary A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, the first ever Iranian-language vampire movie, featuring a hijabi, skateboard-riding bloodsucker who is as enchanting as she is dangerous. And Amirpour’s third feature film Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon is another fabulous example of her unique outsider horror perspective.
The soundtrack and the score are the heartbeat of a weirdo, which is probably why I love it so much and it resonates deeply. The music is as much a character here as the ragtag group of misfits in New Orleans who find themselves connected by a strange woman named Mona (Jun Jong-seo) who appeared to be catatonic until one particular blood moon that wakes up more than just her voice. And powers.
In a post-Katrina landscape of NOLA, beat cop Officer Harold (Craig Robinson) does his best to curb the nonstop white devilry of his hometown. Until he meets Mona and her new ward Bonnie (Kate Hudson), a sex worker who will use any opportunity to get ahead, even if it appears to have supernatural and unpredictable provenance. Add to the mix Bonnie’s precocious son Charlie (Evan Whitten) who understands a lot more about not just his mom’s seedy world, but the broader context beyond that adults don’t give him any credit for. Until he meets Mona and her unlikely beau Fuzz (an unrecognizable Ed Skrein).
Theres so much I love about this film. But my favorite part is how the outsiders recognize their peers, and help them. There are many scenes here you think will go pear-shaped given so much American context — like the young skateboarders who give Mona shoes for her bare and bloody feet, leaving her unmolested — that make this film a strange delight.
And don’t forget that soundtrack and score embodying a weirdo’s heartbeat in adventure territory. If you’re one of us, you’ll feel it right away. It’s not just familiar. It’s home.
✨M-O-O-N/5 stars. That spells, “Watch this movie.”✨