New Horror Releases: Monstrous (2020) - Reviewed

Monstrous is the story of a young woman who elects to go searching for her friend who had gone missing in a town known for Bigfoot sightings. Her road trip takes her to a place far darker than the lair of a giant hairy monster, but we will leave the synopsis at that.

Written by lead actress Anna Shields (Little Bi Peep from 2013) and directed by Bruce Wemple (The Tomorrow Paradox and Lake Artifact (2019)) Monstrous follows Sylvia (Shields) who reluctantly goes to Whitehall, NY to trail the last place her missing friend had been seen. She is accompanied by Alex (Rachel Finninger), a stranger who is headed to the same town, but the Bigfoot subject is the last thing that comes up.

The film has amazing imagery that lends to the mystery of the forest and its mythological inhabitant, but the actual topic of Bigfoot is as scarce as the manimal himself. An entire hour of the film is clumsily devoted to girl-on-girl angst as a bland and overbearing attempt at character establishment. If you like chicks making out incessantly while you get drunk on the couch, Monstrous will satisfy you for most of the running time. If you aim to see a tension-filled Bigfoot film, perhaps pass on this one.

It is a bait-and-switch of topics, but having said that, the few sights of Bigfoot that we do get in this film are breathtaking, making it worth the tedious wait. The cinematography successfully embraces the legend and its larger-than-life appeal and the make-up effects for the entire film is believable and very well done. Wemple is clearly a thorough director, using atmosphere and color grading to enhance the scenes even more.

Monstrous delivers a promising opening sequence and follows with pleasant natural acting, especially by Sylvia’s pal Jaime (Grant Schumacher), that gives the film credence on many levels. Unfortunately, the story is thin and predictable, focusing far more on common psychoses than the intended enigma it uses to hook audiences. However, it does jumble up expectations in exploring the more bestial attributes in humans, which runs a pretty metaphor to the mythos of the man-beast. The criminal element in the film will please fans of true crime and thrillers in general, so roll your dice!

The duplicitous nature of the film is a double-edged sword. Most audiences might feel cheated at the actual subject matter that is masked as what most would expect – an adventure into the untamed horror of the Sasquatch. Monstrous never claims to be exclusively about Bigfoot, though, therefore seizing every right to steer us into a slight detour during the film. Those who enjoy a double plot run will enjoy the sub-plot which is responsible for most of the horror aspect of the movie, after all.

To horror audiences, Monstrous will be forgettable, but that does not mean that it is not a decent opportunity to watch a solid piece of horror that will satisfy your serial killer needs.

--Tasha Danzig