‘A Monster With a Thousand Heads’ an efficient thriller from Mexico

Jana Raluy in ‘A Monster with a Thousand Heads’
Jana Raluy in ‘A Monster with a Thousand Heads’ Music Box Films

Everyone can sympathize with Sonia Bonnet.

Her husband is crippled with cancer and there is a treatment that offers some relief, but there’s just one catch: Her medical plan won’t pay for it.

Her solution is to kidnap the doctors who sign off on who does or does not get care, and while that may be extreme it’s a thought that has probably flitted across the mind of anyone who has ever dealt with intransigent, uncaring insurance companies.

How it plays out in this stark, stripped-down thriller is what makes Mexican director Rodrigo Plá’s novella of a film — it unspools in a brief 74 minutes — so impressive. Quiet and contemplative instead of being noisy and all about action, A Monster With a Thousand Heads, based on a novel by Laura Santullo, slowly pulls viewers in to her plight.

An excellent Jana Raluy is Sonia, a woman whose exhaustion is etched into her face like a rock carving. When we first meet her, she’s at her husband’s side in the midst of a late-night emergency. And then things spiral downward from there.

Plá may employ a more experimental filmmaking style at times — unusual framing choices, snatches of voiceover, prolonged moments of silence — but it works, building a sense of alienation and despair.

In Spanish with English subtitles

Exclusive: Angelika Dallas

A Monster With a Thousand Heads

(out of five)

Director: Rodrigo Plá

Cast: Jana Raluy, Sebastián Aguirre, Hugo Albores

Rated: Unrated

Running time: 74 min.