One of the most common fears in the world is of being trapped.

That little old fear has a way of inspiring some of the best art in the horror genre, and it’s the central idea behind Martín Blousson and Macarena García Lenzi’s ROCK, PAPER AND SCISSORS.

In the film, Magdelena (Agustina Cerviño) has returned to the family home after the death of her father. It’s supposed to be a quick trip, just long enough to settle affairs and collect her portion of the inheritance. 

Her brother Jesus (Pablo Sigal) and sister Maria Jose (Valeria Giorcelli) are delighted to see her and insist she stay with them, but after one sleepless night in the dead man’s room, Magdelena informs them she’ll spend the rest of the trip at a hotel despite their protestations. However, as she makes to leave, she takes a brutal fall down the stairs.

Now she’s back in her father’s bed with a neck brace, a plethora of bruises, and a broken leg. Looks like she’ll be staying with them after all.

The thing is, Magdelena is convinced she was pushed. But which one of her eccentric siblings did it? Was it her sweet, Wizard of Oz-obsessed sister or her gentle aspiring filmmaker brother? And more importantly, can she convince one of them to let her leave?

ROCK, PAPER, AND SCISSORS is like if Misery and Flowers in the Attic gave birth to a Yorgos Lanthimos-directed Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, and I loved it.

From Maria Jose’s late-night Oz reenactments to Jesus’ surrealist nightmare film project, this movie was filled to the brim with the type of strange that makes you squirm in your seat. But it’s not all giant guinea pigs and ruby slippers, this story devotes just as much time to the delicate and dangerous power dynamics at play between the siblings.

Each character in the three-person cast balances a series of flaws alongside a series of needs, and the combination of the two is constantly compelling. There’s nothing hyperbolic about the pain Magdelena is in (or the peril), but the way she plays it up to gain sympathy from her sister is very different than the straight-forward conversations with her brother. 

This is also a very beautiful film. Tans, browns, and grays make up the central palette, which makes the strategic pops of brighter color all the more significant. A yellow suitcase, red slippers, even a string of Christmas lights look like candy to the eye inside this muted world. Not to mention the final overhead shot was so striking I want a still of it to hang in my home.

ROCK, PAPER AND SCISSORS is delightfully strange dive into one family’s personal Twilight Zone. Hop on the ride.

Adrienne Clark
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