Review: Healthcare is a ‘Monster’ we can all relate to and fear


Although the title might suggest cheesy sensationalism, “A Monster With a Thousand Heads” serves as a sobering, all-too-relatable indictment of the bureaucratic Hydra that is the medical insurance industry.

When their healthcare provider won’t approve a drug treatment for her cancer-stricken husband because it’s not on their policy’s list of approved medications, the understandably frustrated Sonia (accomplished theater actress Jana Raluy) is driven to desperate measures after encountering shoulder-shrugging indifference at every turn.

While her actions inevitably take her down an increasingly violent spiral, the potentially explosive scenario shares precious little of the heavy-handed histrionics of a “John Q,” the 2002 Denzel Washington emergency-room hostage drama.


Instead, director Rodrigo Plá, armed with a spare, intelligent script adapted by Laura Santullo from her original novel, crafts a remarkably even-handed film that constantly defies thriller conventions, incorporating elements of cinema verité and experimental film while still delivering the requisite amount of tension and crucial viewer empathy.

Employing some unusual framing through an often static camera, multiple viewpoints and fragmented voice-overs, the Uruguay-born, Mexico-raised Plá and his lead actress, who plays her role with a fierce determination, draws us in to Sonia’s life-or-death dilemma and holds us there for the economical 74-minute duration.

When it comes to striking a universal chord, the necessity for a clear-cut villain and a heart-tugging score (there is no soundtrack to speak of) aren’t always just what the doctor ordered.


‘A Monster With a Thousand Heads’

In Spanish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes

Playing: Nuart Theatre, West L.A.