We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Although Rodrigo Plá’s “A Monster With a Thousand Heads,” about a woman who resorts to desperate measures against an insurance company that refuses to cover her husband’s treatment, can conveniently be categorized as a thriller, it’s one of those films that shouldn't be pigeonholed with a plot synopsis or a genre tag. The movie deserves to be known, first of all, as a terrific example of intelligent, captivating film craft—further proof of the recent strength of Mexican cinema.
"A Monster with a Thousand Heads" grabs you with its first shot. Although there’s something visible on the screen’s right side, the image is so dark that I wondered briefly if there was something wrong with the print or the projection. But there’s no problem; the image’s darkness—which soon clarifies that this is the bedroom of the protagonist’s husband—serves mainly to draw our eyes into the picture, one of a number of unexpected techniques that make the film so visually entrancing throughout.
Once we’re in that bedroom, the plot’s premise is sketched in quickly and subtly. Mexico City housewife Sonia (Jana Raluy, a stage actress who contributes brilliant work here) is doing everything she can to take care of her husband Guillermo, who’s bedridden with ever-worsening cancer. Though he keeps up a brave front, it’s clear he’s in considerable pain, and she soon realizes—after pouring through sheaves of medical data—that he needs a kind of treatment that his insurance company should okay but hasn’t.
She first off goes to the office of the doctor whose approval is necessary, where she’s given an insulting, aggravating runaround. She waits for hours, then is told the doctor has gone for the day. He hasn’t, though, and when she realizes that, she goes in angry pursuit.