In the last couple years we've seen horror make an upward trend towards finally breaking free of the standard slasher tropes that have ruined the genre for quite some time. Starting back in 2013, scary movies got upended and reinvigorated with a return to form as independent features once again became the primary source for quality content. As fans and followers became complacent and bored with what seemed to be a dying breed of film making, something happened and horror finally started to break free of the corporate mold that churned out franchise film after franchise film. Continuing that indie spirit is the new feature, The Monster, a little flick that's way smarter than it appears to be.
Centering on two female characters on a road trip, The Monster puts quality back in horror by not relegating itself to the bottom rung of the monster movie ladder. Starting off like some gradient looking post-millenial family drama, Bertino's latest release quickly shifts focus into a realm of fear and bloodshed.
Relying on comparable motherly themes to The Babadook, old school practical effects, and a noticeably low budget, the director of The Monster uses every last bit of his energy to create a darkened creature feature that calls back to a much better time in filmmaking. Brian Bertino (The Strangers) draws a great performance from the youthful Ella Ballentine while actress Zoe Kazan weaves a solid portrayal of a mother intertwined in a world ruled by alcohol and neglect. The emotional betrayal that's felt between daughter and mom is probably the most convincing part of the movie. Scott Speedman makes a brief appearance as the father, but really doesn't have much time to do anything.
|Dude, are you a Xenomorph? Cause if you are, I want your autograph!|
The Monster's visuals are created by long time Alien franchise effects coordinator, Alec Gillis. His new creation is a rain soaked mix between the Xenomorph and Venom blended into a blood thirsty, flesh chewing beast. The movements of the monster are realistic and never look like they've been marked with a CGI brush in the least. Honestly, it's pretty cool to see someone falling back on older techniques that don't rely on current tech and computers. Having grown up in the '80s, The Monster feels like something I would have seen at the movies with my Dad. This gives off a retro feel while also maintaining a current day storyline about a broken home.
With plenty of non-routine jump scares, a plateful of gory scenes featuring ripped off limbs and gut tearing wounds, The Monster is easily one of the better horror flicks of the year. If this had been released in time for Halloween, we would have been hearing a lot more about it. If you're looking to watch a horror movie this week, check this one out. It doesn't suck.
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