Amirpour’s third good-humoured feature is also directed by a fearless woman. She is the mysterious Mona Lisa Lee, an inmate of Korean origin, locked up in a kind of mental hospital on the outskirts of New Orleans. Played by Jeon Jong-seo (from the masterful “Burning” by Lee Chang-dong) with verve and mystique, Mona Lisa suffers in her seedy cell trapped in a straitjacket, often subjected to monstrous cruelty. We learn as much from an early scene, when a worker in charge of cutting Mona Lisa’s nails mercilessly drags her to the ground, trying to hurt and humiliate the young woman. But like a werewolf transforming into her full powers under a full moon, something then snaps inside Mona Lisa, which takes control of the caregiver’s supposed motor functions, causing her to repeatedly stab herself without physical strength – just eye contact and body movements that mimic that of his badly injured victim.

It’s a gruesome scene, but as satisfying to watch as any deserved act of cinematic revenge. Amirpour indulges in this fulfillment throughout his last, following Mona as she punishes her ruthless perpetrators one by one. But after a brief encounter with Fuzz (Ed Skrein), a stranger who buys hungry Mona junk food at a deli, the young woman then gets involved in darker deeds herself under Bonnie’s watch. A fantastic Kate Hudson plays this delightfully trashy and cunning character, a shrewd but down-on-his-luck stripper and single mother who decides to harness Mona’s undetectable superpower to control others as an opportunity to make money. So when they’re not gobbling down burgers and the boxes of pizza that Bonnie provides daily, the two carelessly hit the ATMs, poisoning the helpless bank customers with a few hundred dollars here and a few hundreds of dollars there. Already on high alert, Craig Robinson’s compassionate and shrewd detective Harold claims the case, having been one of Mona’s hypnotized prey himself with a leg healing from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Thanks to this non-fatal injury, “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon” involves one of the best (and funniest) chase scenes in recent memory, following a low-speed Harold chasing Bonnie, who doesn’t also can’t run due to the high-heeled stripper stilettos she’s firmly strapped into. But what gives the film its heart, more than its gags and well-realized world of mud on the quaint streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter, is the ultimate friendship Mona builds with Charlie (a lovable Evan Whitten ), Bonnie’s neglected and surprisingly balanced son, who desperately needs his parents’ warmth and support. Amirpour translates their connection perfectly to the screen, with Mona finding a pair of youthful eyes through which she can make sense of the outside world she’s just been thrust into like a baby coming out of a womb; and Charlie, finally having the attention and dedication of a caring adult. A pair of fake IDs and some slight costume makeovers later, the two head to the airport to get away and start a new life. But will they be able to escape with half the city’s law enforcement ready to stop them?