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MUSE (MUSA) (2017)

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Spanish horror flick from [REC]‘s Jaume Balagueró finds Professor Samuel Solomon (Elliot Cowan) at an Irish college having an affair with one of his students (Manuela Vellés). She makes him promise to love her forever and then commits suicide in his own tub. A year later he begins to have strange dreams of the ritualistic murder of a woman (Leonor Watling) he’s never met. When the murder actually occurs, he begins to investigate with the help of Rachel (Ana Ularu), a single mother who was having the same dream. They find out about the existence of a sect, The White Circle, who believed in seven supernatural women, muses, who infiltrate our world through the words they inspire mortals to write. Members of the sect have all died and now the seven muses may be coming for Rachel and Sam.

Flick is filmed in English and directed by Jaume Balagueró from a script by he and Fernando Navarro (who ironically also co-wrote Verónica with Paco Plaza), based on a book by José Carlos Somoza. There are some very spooky moments here and some bloody ones as well. The story is a bit different with a focus on this group of seven supernaturally empowered women who manipulate things through the words and poetry they inspire writers to write…and not all of their inspirations are good. On paper, in Somoza’s book, a lot of what happens probably worked very well, especially with the pages to develop ideas and plot points. On film, though, things get a bit convoluted and some of the story elements start to feel made up as the film goes along. It is atmospheric and there are some very chilling and disturbing moments, but the story almost starts to feel it’s rambling a bit, before it comes to a conclusion that’s pretty much spelled out before the last act confrontation begins. Overall, it’s not a bad film, Just maybe not one easily translated from book to film and therefor we don’t get the full impact of the original tale, even if much of it is effectively done.

The cast is fine. Elliot Cowan tires hard as Professor Solomon, though comes across as a tad bland. His character also seems to dive right into the supernatural elements a little too easily for someone still suffering emotional trauma. Ana Ularu is sympathetic and a bit mysterious as Rachel. She will do anything to protect her son, which has her in practical slavery to the unsavory owner of a strip club. Franka Potente is solid as a close associate of Solomon who gets dragged into the supernatural drama. Flick also stars veteran Christopher Lloyd as the last remaining member of The White Circle, who is in hiding and a chilling Joanne Whalley as one of the seven ladies, Jacqueline.

This was a decent supernatural tale. It had an interesting premise, was atmospheric and had some spooky moments. Drawbacks are sometimes the film feels like the story is being made up as it goes and it gets a bit convoluted in the second half. It is based on a novel and maybe the story simply doesn’t translate that well to film. Some tales are better told on paper, despite a good filmmaker like Balagueró at the helm.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 2 and 1/2 razor blades.