Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
I actually started watching Murder Me, Monster the best part of a year ago. After getting around 30 minutes in, something interrupted me and I made a mental note to come back and finish it when I had a chance. The opening had looked promising and I was keen to see where it all went. And then, because I’m getting old, I forgot.
Happily, looking through my Shudder watchlist for OHMC selections reminded me of all this, and I’ve finally caught up with it. This is making me wonder how many other half-watched films I have on various streaming services. If any of the others are this good, I should be kicking myself.
Murder Me, Monster is currently available on Shudder in the UK.
It needs to be said up front that Murder Me, Monster is a dreamlike film, and any plot summary is not going to do it justice. Trust me when I say that the experience of watching it will be much stranger than I am about to make it sound.
Cruz is a police officer in a rural, sparsely populated area of the Andean highlands of Argentina. When a woman is murdered and decapitated, a man called David comes under suspicion. He is a strange sort, and he suffers from some kind of blackouts or seizures. The whole situation is complicated by the fact that Cruz is having an affair with David’s wife, Francisca.
Following another beheading, David is committed to a psychiatric hospital. He blames a monster that has been making psychic contact with him, manipulating his actions. No one takes this seriously except Cruz, who has also started hearing the monster speaking to him.
Is there really a monster, or are both David and Cruz delusional? Why do both men keep hearing the message, “Murder me, monster”? And is everyone in the Andean highlands really as weird as this film makes out?
As I was watching Murder Me, Monster, I kept noting that various scenes reminded me of David Lynch. Looking at other reviews afterwards, I see that I am far from the only person to make this connection. The sheer eccentricity of the police officers, in particular, felt straight out of Twin Peaks. Their absurdity goes a long way towards lightening what is otherwise a brutally downbeat film.
Cruz is given to expressing himself through a dance that is both absurd and deeply melancholic. His procedural manual has become his sketchbook, filled with strange and beautiful drawings, executed over the instructional text. Cruz’s captain is no less strange, given to wild tangents that take any conversation into strange waters indeed. The scene in which he enumerates an extensive list of phobias to Cruz is a highlight.
The strangeness of these characters is accentuated by the slow, ponderous camerawork and editing. Rather than trying our patience, these build dread in a way that reminds me of Lynch at his darkest. The sparse dialogue also adds to the generally oppressive atmosphere, with much of the storytelling being purely visual. This is a film that will punish you for not paying full attention.
Murder Me, Monster is an odd film. I mean that in both a good and bad way. At its best, it’s a darkly comic nightmare that blends surrealism, Freudian fears of sexuality, and the lurking presence of a predatory monster. Despite its understated tone, there is more raw imagination here than in any other film I’ve seen this month. At the same time, the story telling is oblique enough that it almost becomes disjointed, sacrificing emotional impact in its subtlety and cleverness.
As a piece of cinema, Murder Me, Monster is simply gorgeous. The Andean highland setting is both beautiful and stark, adding a haunting quality to every external shot. The cast are similarly striking. I can’t remember the last time I saw so many characterful faces in one film. Victor López as Cruz is like an even gruffer Ron Perlman, whose taciturn manner also manages to convey a real sense of vulnerability.
The resolution of Murder Me, Monster will almost certainly alienate many viewers, although it worked for me. It is downbeat and weird, leaning more into dream logic than tying up loose ends. The reveal of the monster will probably be the most divisive part, as I can imagine it provoking as more laughter and eye-rolling than horror, although I suspect this is by design.
If you’re in the mood for something more absurd and unsettling than frightening this Halloween, Murder Me, Monster could be just what you need.
The October Horror Movie Challenge
Please do join in and share your own thoughts with us about this or any other films as the month goes on. You can usually find us on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Discord, or lurking in the dark corners of your home.
If you would like to play along at home, my provisional selections are:
- Dark August (USA, 1976)
- Huesera: The Bone Woman (Mexico/Peru, 2022)
- The Banishing (UK, 2020)
- Brooklyn 45 (USA, 2023)
- Bloody Muscle Bodybuilder in Hell (Japan, 1995)
- Pyewacket (Canada, 2017)
- Grave Robbers (Mexico, 1989)
- You Might Be The Killer (USA, 2018)
- No One Will Save You (USA, 2023)
- The Sect (Italy, 1991)
- Last Night in Soho (UK, 2021)
- Errementari: The Blacksmith and the Devil (Spain, 2017)
- 47 Metres Down (UK/USA, 2017)
- The Oskars Fantasy (Philippines, 2022)
- In the Earth (UK, 2021)
- Something in the Dirt (USA, 2022)
- Blood Flower (Malaysia, 2023)
- Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II (Canada, 1987)
- Older Gods (UK, 2023)
- Come to Daddy (New Zealand, 2020)
- Shrew’s Nest (Spain, 2014)
- Totally Killer (USA, 2023)
- The Premonition (USA, 1976)
- Murder Me, Monster (Argentina, 2018)
- The Gruesome Twosome (USA, 1967)
- Talk to Me (Australia, 2023)
- Gaia (South Africa, 2021)
- Demon (Poland, 2015)
- Juju Stories (Nigeria, 2022)
- El Conde (Chile, 2023)
- The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (Hong Kong/UK, 1974)
A Final Note
If you have been enticed here by these posts, please do look around at some of our other film reviews. We also have a podcast, called The Good Friends of Jackson Elias, which occasionally covers horror films. If this appeals, you might want to check out some of the following episodes.
- The Night House
- The Changeling
- The Endless
- Our favourite Cthulhu Mythos media
- The Fly
- A Dark Song
- The Thing
- The Ritual
- The Wicker Man
- The Stone Tape
- Event Horizon
- The Witch
- INLAND EMPIRE
- Nightbreed and Lord of Illusions
- Maléfique and The Ninth Gate
- Re-Animator and From Beyond
- Repulsion and The Babdook
- Man Bites Dog, Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon and S&man
- A selection of weird films
- David Cronenberg
- The films that scared us most
If you dig through the archives, you will also find episodes about a wide variety of horror stories and games. Happy nightmares!