Rock, Paper and Scissors (Spanish title: Piedra, papel y tijera) is a strange, surreal, and languidly-paced drama that very loosely wears the moniker of horror on its sleeve. This bizarre import finds the most success when it punctuates moments with equally jarring visual technique. Directors Martin Blousson and Macarena Garcia Lenzi have fun with the stylistic flair, toying with imagination (especially near the conclusion) accompanied by a sense of childlike glee.
Two siblings, movie-obsessed Jesus (Pablo Sigal) and his wannabe-actress sister, Maria (Augustina Cervino), live in the sprawling home of their deceased father, using it as their own personal playground. When their estranged paternal half-sister, Magdalena (Valeria Giorcelli), arrives to claim her share of the inheritance, the duo is thrown into a tailspin. Their father’s body was cremated without Magdalena’s consent, and he left no will. Magdalena takes a violent fall down the staircase, and she becomes an unwilling bed-restricted captive of her siblings’ twisted games.
What I enjoyed the most is the excessive movie references, including a long sequence where the trio recreate The Wizard of Oz, complete with Toto the guinea pig. Another segment, where Jesus and Maria try to get Magdalena in character as someone who “hates herself subconsciously to the point of self-mutilation,” had me invested in that particular aspect to the narrative. The brother making an at-home movie project stays compelling, but the rest of it falls flat. Once Rock, Paper and Scissors kicks into Misery mode, it comes far too little too late. There is a very clever sight gag, involving sawing off limbs, that is far and above my favorite sequence.
I wish the horror had been amped up significantly; instead, it feels like an afterthought to the familial drama and money politics. When season 2 of Netflix’s The Politician has a stronger narrative throughline to the rock, paper, scissors game than a movie quite literally titled Rock, Paper and Scissors, there is something wrong there. The acting, and especially the directing, is the main reason to give this one a chance. There is enough style on display; I just wish the film had a strong enough script to accompany it.
Rock, Paper and Scissors unleashes its games July 6th, on digital and On Demand.