My horror palate was forever revolutionized in 2008 when Bryan Bertino introduced THE STRANGERS to this diversity-filled, voluptuous genre we call horror. So when the opportunity arose in being offered the chance to screen his new film THE MONSTER, there was no hesitation in accepting!
No articles read. No trailers watched. No cast or crew research done. Being an admirer of both A24 and Bertino, I wanted to loose my cinematic pleasure virginity all over again! And it was worth every moment.
“Mom tells me there is no such thing as monsters. But she is wrong.” are the first spoken words in the film by the character Lizzy (played by ,the ever impressive young actress, Ella Ballentine)
With the audible essence of Roger Miller singing his ‘A World So Full of Love,‘ we are visually introduced to young Lizzy (Ella Ballentine , THE CAPTIVE) alone and tending to beer bottle pick up and waking her mother, Kathy (Zoe Kazan, IN YOUR EYES) from a hangover. We quickly are made aware of a very unhealthy role reversal between mother and daughter – the mother seeking to reclaim her lost childhood and a daughter who will too, seek her own one day! There is no slow burn in becoming very familiar with this emotionally charged pairing. The tug-of-war between earned hatred and despair for love between them binds you and distracts you from what’s to come.
As Kathy drives Lizzy to see her father, the road is long, dark and lined with dense vegetation. The downpour begins. Visibility is poor and a wolf runs out in the road causing Kathy to spin the car out of control. They are stuck. They are in the middle of nowhere but help is on the way. All will be fine! They never lost cell service. We can see the tow truck coming…
One would think that no movie with such common horror plot elements would be worth the praise in prelude, but this is where the definition of “impressive film” really applies. Being that those elements are common, plus I won’t spoil the movie for you, a storytelling sleight of hand took place. You may think you know, but trust me, you have no idea what you are in for! With the focus being so strategic on the dynamic between Kathy and Lizzy, you already have a plausible heavy oppression before the corn syrup and body parts come into play! THE MONSTER truly provokes in layers! What is the actual “monster” to one may not be what it is to another!
Bertino has the storytelling ability that is profoundly organized which makes a film an experience versus just a visual event. There is an understanding of the human psyche that makes the film a sort of “choose your own adventure,” due to his focus being that of character and story development so immediately, one will relate on some level and then you are a puppet to Bertino’s precisely controlled strings!
There are few better things in the world than a horror film, in fact being just that, a true horror film! THE MONSTER will have you asking yourself if you just witnessed a violent illustration of a person and their emotional evolution, or a truly scary creature feature! All parts are equally satisfying!
THE MONSTER Trailer
A24 will release THE MONSTER in theaters and on Demand, November 11!
The film is available now exclusively on DirecTV