This week’s film brings Horror Month to a close (say it isn’t so)! In true French spirit, this film does horror with style (and is based on a true story!).
The Most Assassinated Woman in the World
Paula Maxa, famous for dying onstage in every performance, may be the target of a real-life killer.
Welcome to 1930s Paris, a world full of cigarettes, drama, religious zealots, and…murder? The (in)famous Paula Maxa has the distinction of being murdered every night at the Grand Guignol Theatre, much to the dismay of a die-hard group of protestors. Believing her violent act will yield acts of real violence, the protestors only seem to create more intrigue around the scandalous show.
You have to give credit to the theater crew for keeping things fresh–Paula’s deaths are always gruesomely staged with a disturbing amount of attention to detail. Whether being stabbed, choked, or beheaded, the stunts always look real. Possibly because the blood and body parts involved aren’t props but harvested from human victims…?
On this particular evening, there are several audience members of note watching the show. First is an older man with his young lover in a private box. The man in question seems much more interested in Paula’s bloody death than anything his lover has to offer. That can’t be good.
Another person of importance is a journalist, Jean, writing a story about the Grand Guignol as a den of depravity. After the show the next night, Jean meets Paula at a bar straight out of a film noir. He’s immediately intrigued and determined to learn more about the glamorous, aloof star.
Meanwhile, Paula is having flashbacks to her younger days, and they aren’t particularly happy memories. These seem to be influenced in part by the awful director who is determined to drive Paula insane for some reason? Mostly because he’s a douche?
As Paula opens up to Jean, she reveals the tragic secret in her past she’s held onto for so many years. She also hints that she’s ready to leave the theatre and will do so with an appropriate amount of dramatic flair.
Unfortunately, someone else seems ready for Paula to exit, stage left, in real life. The choice to re-create Paula’s past onstage seems rather ominous. Like Paula’s past, will this story end in tragedy?
3/5 Pink Panther Heads
More film noir than horror, this film has a wonderful aura of mystery. The gory effects paired with the melodramatic onstage deaths are impossible to resist. As an added bonus, the film fits in nicely with the blog collab’s unoffical subtheme: Women Who Look Good Smoking.
However, there are a lot of elements that never feel fully fleshed out. I expected more to happen with the religious zealots, and almost all of the character motivations are confusing. This is the kind of film where I anticipate a clever twist, but the end is just…a very French ending indeed. (Not in a dirty way.)