Medusa (1998)

Rating: C+

Dir: George Lazopoulos
Star: Thanos Amorginos, Vana Rambota, Eleni Filini, Haris Migalogiannakis

There’s an air of Cocteau here: in the same way, he took the Orpheus legend, and brought it into the modern world, while preserving an aura of magic, Lazopoulos does the same thing here, with the story of Medusa, the figure of Greek lore, who turned anyone who looked at her to stone. When mysterious clothed statues start turning up in contemporary Athens, the police are understandably baffled. Meanwhile, a group of thieves plan to stage a raid on a house they believe to be empty. There’s both good and bad news for them.

The latter is, obviously, that their target won’t remain as deserted as they’d like. However, the good news is that among their number is a guy (Amorginos) who keeps correcting those who try to call him Percy. For his real name is Perseus – who better to handle she with snakes for hair, even if he has had mommy issues since being abandoned as a child… It’s a nice idea, executed with simple effects, executed with some style, and a few concepts that are the film’s own e.g. Medusa only turns men to stone, women… Let’s just say, suffer a different fate. It teeters on the edge of breaking through, but eventually runs aground, mostly because the two threads of the plot, the cops and the robbers, only come together at the very end.

Up until then, the switching of focus from one group to the other, comes over more as a distraction than adding anything much to proceedings [though we do learn Greek cops apparently go around everywhere in packs of four]. Amorginos makes for a likeable hero, and the script does a good job of updating many aspects; for example, no-one carries a mirrored shield with them, so when Perseus goes on the hunt for Medusa, he rips out his car’s rear-view mirror. However, it’s almost as if the writer didn’t have enough faith in his own hero: you certainly didn’t see the Greek legends spending half their time on supporting characters, and doing so here leaves this falling well short of mythic status.