Is there anything more terrifying to a teen girl than coming into adulthood? I think not. Cinema has often used the ‘coming-of-age’ arch to tell stories about individual journeys, love, and loss. Horror is no different, even though it seeks the extreme of the spectrum. What better example of a real-life Cronenbergian Body Horror than growing added appendages where there once were none? Perhaps even a hint of Werewolfism from the addition of new body hair? And women can all relate to Carrie (and perhaps even the elevators in the The Shining) with regards to the monthly red ‘gift’ (read: curse), periods.
While transformation and coming-of-age themed horror movies aren’t a new exploration, it’s the method of storytelling that has evolved as of recent. Opting for more intimate character studies, using emotion over scare, and creating a sense of scope and isolation are the new tools in the growing-up spooky toolkit. Like recent films; the cannibalistic Raw (2017), the maybe metaphorical monster of Der Nachtmahr (2015), and being haunted by one’s own sexuality in It Follows (2015). And now, writer/director Lisa Brühlmann’s exploration of growing up mermaid in Blue My Mind.
Blue My Mind follows Swiss new girl Mia (Luna Wedler). Desperate to swim among the school of cool kids, she quickly adopts their apathetic, chaotic lifestyle. Stealing, drinking, drugs, even dabbling in auto-asphyxia prove Mia to be a worthy addition to the elite girl group. Led by the bold and fearless Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen), Mia explores the deep sea of teenage bush parties, girls-only bedroom hangouts, and living a life free from the should-be watchful eye of parents.
As Mia finds herself climbing the hierarchy within the group, her desperation to fit in grows. She notices strange changes occurring to her body – a hunger that wasn’t there before, bruising and flaking on her legs, a membrane growing between her toes. Afraid these malformations will jeopardize her newfound status, Mia straddles the mental hurdle of pretending none of it is real, and fearing the moment when everything will come crashing around her. (Maybe picture waves even, if you’d like another water metaphor)
“Whatever she’s becoming, wherever this journey takes her, we resonate – because our bodies once did the same thing..”
Though Blue My Mind is slow in pace, those along the ride won’t find themselves bored. Mia is a tortured, enigmatic soul. Even as she descends deeper into her transformation, she is an emotionally intelligent girl butting heads with volatility and chaos. She engages in risky sexual behavior. Men eye her like prey, but she is ultimately in control. Serving up shoves as often as ‘sures‘. Whatever she’s becoming, wherever this journey takes her, we resonate – because our bodies once did the same thing.
Blue My Mind is an ethereal exploration into the life of a teenage girl, and everything it entails. There are very true fears here and very real emotions wrapped in this mermaid enigma. Every single one of them is worth exploring.
Mermaids are all the rage right now. Coming off the heels of 2015’s Polish mermaid musical The Lure, and TV’s man-eating series Siren, Blue My Mind nestles itself in good company. Perhaps with the evolving movement of womens’ rights, particularly in the forefront right now in Hollywood, Mermaids make perfect sense as a horror trope worth exploring. Unless talking King Tritan, the mermaid is usually depicted as a beautiful young woman. Fiesty, but timid. Daring, but quiet. And often times, with a taste for male flesh. What better way to address gender norms than harnessing the power of something mythical, larger than life, that’s hidden under flowing hair, shell cups, and a fish tail?
We caught Blue My Mind as part of the 2018 Overlook Film Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. Stick around Nightmare on Film Street for even more festival coverage, and check out our Twitter and Instagram pages for highlights from the event.
Blue My Mind is currently on the Festival Circuit, and has not yet received US release. We’ll update you here at Nightmare on Film Street when release news swims into view! (I couldn’t help myself with that last one)