By Jordan Gerdes
Blue My Mind is a coming of age story wrapped up in a body horror film. Directed by Lisa Brühlmann and written by Dominik Locher and Brühlmann herself, this Swiss/German horror film follows a 15-year-old girl named Mia (Luna Wedler) who is facing changes in her life. She moves to a new town, a new school, new friends. Mia is a quiet teen, shy and feels out of place. She seeks the approval of a group of girls at the school, who are horrible role models, but fit the style of rebellion Mia is drawn to. The group leader, Gianna (Zoë Pastelle Holthuizen) is the stereotypical mean girl with no supervision. She introduces Mia to smoking cigarettes, drugs, drinking, pornography, sex, and a myriad of other vices. Mia’s parents have no about most of this, only seeing their daughter become more aggressive and withdrawn.
However, Mia’s body is going through changes. She receives her first period, she feels sexual urges, and her body is coursing with hormones that she doesn’t understand. But something else is amiss. Mia sneaks out of her room late at night to drink a glass of water with salt in it. She dreams of water. In private, she steals goldfish out of the fish tank and eats them whole. After getting her period, she notices her toes starting to grow together, a syndactyly. Her legs become bruised and flaky, peeling skin off revealing a blackened skin underneath.
Mia continues to hide this all, burying herself in pills, alcohol and sexual encounters with men, some strangers, some schoolmates. She becomes isolated and quick to anger with her parents. After dissecting a fish in class one day, Mia waits til the room is empty and bites into it ravenously. A friend sees her and Mia threatens her into silence. She becomes convinced that she is adopted and this is all a result of her birthparents. When her real parents go out of town, Mia goes to a party at a lake, where Gianna almost drowns. Mia rushes into the water, swimming effortlessly to her and rescues her, before fleeing to her house. She discovers the gills forming along her ribcage.
Through Mia’s continued transformations, including the emotional and shocking conclusion, the film highlights just how isolated and broken she feels. She doesn’t trust anyone and as such, she removes herself from society as much as possible, while trying to remain a seemingly “normal” teen girl. She often resorts to drugs and alcohol to numb herself, and is taken advantage of by a number of men, including a group of men toward the end of the film in a heartbreaking scene.
Blue My Mind excels at making the viewer feel for this girl. We are the only witness to her transformations, we act as a confidant, seeing a private side of her that others are not allowed to. In that way, we attach to her emotional journey. Many of us remember our teenage years, rebelling and doing everything we were told not to do. It’s only different with Mia because she is beginning to change into a creature at the same time.
The cinematography is beautiful in this film, providing a lot of varying shots that highlight the storytelling in this. The acting is also very well done, the majority of it being teenage girls that kill their respective roles with such a believable performance. The film itself sits somewhere at an intersection between Spring(2015) and Raw(2016), as a coming of age – body horror combination. Brühlmann does such a fantastic job with toeing that line between the two, not too much of either side, but telling two equally important stories at once.
Blue My Mind clocks in at 97 minutes, and is another fantastic foreign entry for Shudder. It’s available there and all other VOD services. You should check it out immediately.