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.
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
Running time: 1 hour, 14 minutes
Playing: Nuart Theatre, West L.A.