Director Ana Lily Amirpour switches up genres for her fourth film Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon from Saban films. When struggling single mother and exotic dancer Bonnie (Kate Hudson) befriends Mona Lisa Lee (Jong Seo), a mysterious mental institute escapee with supernatural powers she sees a lucrative opportunity to make some fast cash. But when they draw the attention of a detective (Craig Robinson), their luck starts to run out as the cops close in on their crime spree.
The film opens with a scene in the maximum security area of a psychiatric hospital late at night, in the middle of night. Although the young inmate is firmly handcuffed despite her blank stare, a nurse cruelly mocks the young inmate inside an isolation cell. As it should be with a horror movie, things go left fast, and we know that the nurse is headed down a path to disaster.
The young woman, as you probably already know, possesses a form of telekinesis that enables her to control the actions of others. When the "sick" woman leaves the hospital, she wanders the streets of neighboring New Orleans and meets Kate Hudson's character soon after leaving the hospital.
I hadn't seen any of the director's previous films or the second film lead's breakout role. Primarily my reasoning for hitting play was to see Kate Hudson, Craig Robinson, and Ed Skrein. One of the things that grabbed me early in the film was the introduction to the characters played by Robinson and Skrein. Jong Seo has scenes with both and emotes different feelings with both men that the scenes require.
While I won't spoil the actual template for Skrein's character, it's one of my favorite moments from the film. Even if his character's motivation is typical, Craig Robinson is enjoyable anytime he's on screen. Kate Hudson, on the other hand, I don't think I've ever seen her go the places she does in the film or utter profane language so organically. Who knew that Hudson would be such as convincing toxic stripper?
As for our lead character, Jong Seo is a rising star. She has a natural presence when she's delivering payback to those who are deserving. I also liked her scenes with Bonnie's son Charlie (Evan Whitten). Some viewers may have an issue with the moral compass the script gives Charlie considering his age, but it works. For a film like this to succeed, there needs to be a character to warn Bonnie about how she behaves when it comes to Mona Lisa because it is inevitable that karma will come to collect for you.
I don't know what mainstream audiences will take away from Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon. It goes without saying that the plot point of the outcast and the wise child going up against the world is not a new one. Despite this, you might be able to enjoy the film if you take it as a twisted fairy tale sprinkled with some J-Horror elements.
Final Grade: B
Mona Lisa And The Blood Moon In Theaters, On Digital and On Demand 9/30