Blue My Mind is a Swiss film that tells the story of Mia, a teenager who is going through the usual angst. She has recently moved. She is trying to get in with the cool kids. She numbs herself with alcohol and sex. She feels angry and alienated from her parents, and has a hard time talking to them. In fact, he is beginning to suspect that she is adopted. Adding puberty on top of all of this just seems cruel. But as Mia’s body begins to change, she soon realizes that the changes that she is going through might not be the same as everyone else. She begins to notice tell-tale signs that suggest that she might be becoming part fish.
Period/puberty horror is a thing. Everyone can relate to the changes that make the character feel like a freak. While they feel like a freak of nature, those around them are unhelpful, even when they try. The attitude is usually, “I went through the same thing at your age!” and so the problem is usually ignored or dismissed. I remember watching Ginger Snaps, and Ginger’s mother finds a pair of horrifically bloody underwear. Like, an unnatural amount of blood. Her response? To spray them with stain remover, throw them in the laundry, and cook a special dinner to celebrate Ginger’s entry into womanhood. At one point in Blue My Mind, Mia even sees a doctor with her concerns, and her doctor dismisses them.
Monstrous transformation isn’t an unusual metaphor for change, and it also indicates how society sees these changes in girls and women. It is something that no one speaks about, but is also used as a target point for bullying and bringing fellow girls down. Look at Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. Things haven’t changed a whole lot since then, and much of female sexuality and menstruation is not normalized yet. It’s demonstrated in this film that the boys ask if she has her period to determine if she is old enough to be having sex. The changes are also tied closely with her urge to be sexual to try and ignore the changes; it is like she is trying to hold on to her human side as long as she can, even as she tries to numb the feelings that she has for her human side with sex, drugs, and even more sex.
This movie is more of a slow build to an inevitable conclusion. It examines the impacts of these changes on a young girl, when she is already feeling out of place. Rather than focus on the monster side of things, it focuses on the emotional. It actually has much of the same feel of Let the Right One In. The big difference between the two lies in the transformative part of aging. In Let the Right One In, there are consequences to perpetual childhood, a harsh contrast to the unstoppable changes to Mia in Blue My Mind.
I was actually a little bit shocked at all of the sex in this film. Mia is trying to fit in, so its understandable that she is trying to impress the popular girls. But she is fully going for it. She arranges a tryst with a 35 year-old man. She is passed around for oral sex while drunk until a friend comes to rescue her. She has repeated sex with a guy who doesn’t even notice the horrific bruises all over her legs that is actually molting skin as they fuse together. She has sex with guys and is quickly labelled as a slut by the same guys. Sex is not an “in”; it is a cold, hard coping mechanism, and it is genuinely hard to watch at certain points in the film.
I would have liked a little more closure about Mia’s real parents. It is obvious when Mia starts digging around that she is adopted. Her mother repeatedly blows up at her questions about it, and the paperwork and lack of pregnancy photos is suspicious. And, you know, the whole mermaid thing that they are clearly unaware of. And yet, knowing that she was adopted is enough. She says early on in the movie that her real mother was “someone who didn’t want her.” In the end, she says goodbye to her mother, and we know that she loves her and considers her to be her mother. In the end, it’s not really about finding her real parents, it’s more about finding out who she is.
The body effects here are great, and gradual enough that the final reveal of waking up one morning to a mermaid fin in the middle of the living room is appropriately jarring. Even at that point, she struggles against acceptance. The change is just too much for this girl, who has always felt like an outsider. Now she is an outsider in her own body, and watching her reaction to it is pretty heartbreaking.
While this is not a traditional horror movie (I would call it more of a coming-of-age dark fantasy), it is definitely body horror. The makeup work is fantastic and will make you cringe in places. Luna Wedler does an amazing job as Mia. Her angst is believable and highly internalized, and there are several scenes where she communicates all of her feelings by simply looking out of a window, or giving someone a withering stare. She is able to do all of this while choking down goldfish out of the family aquarium, and the fact that she is able to sell girl-slowly-becomes-mermaid as an engaging story that you will take seriously is no easy feat. She is one to watch.
If you’re looking for a lot of scares, Blue My Mind might not be for you. But if you are looking for something thoughtful on transformation as a metaphor for puberty and identity, as well as the rocky road to finding ourselves, look no further than this hidden gem.