In Maria, Daria Panchenko stars as the titular Maria, a prolific adult film performer whose career appears to be over after a car crash. Initially in a coma, Maria’s body disappears only to rematerialise three years later. Sound engineer Alina (Malena Sánchez) is drafted in for Maria’s return to the spotlight, but events quickly get out of control and all Hell breaks loose.
Maria is a short, slick, sci-fi yarn that plays best late at night. Its narrative insanity, which sees Maria ‘die’ whilst on set, has the perfect ratio between radically weird and soap-opera melodrama. There is also a vein of dark undercurrent with Maria’s prone body set-up for the highest bidder. It is an awful scenario, but directors Gabriel Grieco and Nicanor Loreti make sure that there is plenty of retribution sought for the wrong actions of these men. As Maria returns, the directing duo unleash carnage onto the screen. Blood spurts, organs fly, and there are plenty of WTF moments to appease a baying midnight crowd.
At barely seventy minutes, Maria is one of those films that doesn’t waste any time in getting started. Grieco and Loreti are quick to get to Maria’s narrative reveals, and once these pleasantries are dispatched, the more debaucherous fun can begin. As quickly as they get in, the duo also ensure that Maria doesn’t overstay its welcome and manages to be the perfect length to keep the audience sated and never bored.
Visually, Grieco and Loreti play with both black and white sequences and super-charged Giallo-like colours, the latter helping enforce and enhance the science-fiction elements. The score is also aptly sci-fi in origin; both visual and aural components create the right futuristic atmosphere. On the whole, Maria is an enjoyable jaunt. A pre-end credit tease means that this might not be the last audiences see of Maria, and that might not be a bad thing.
A fun and to the point, bloody, and slightly camp science-fiction, Maria has a great future as a midnight movie.
Maria was reviewed at Pigeon Shrine FrightFest Halloween 2023.