I don’t think it’s too big of a stretch to say that The Strangers is one of the best home invasion horror movies, and definitely towards the top of the list when looking at all horror movies of the last ten years. That being said, what the hell happened to writer/director Bryan Bertino!? Well, after spending six months in hiding, he returned with Mockingbird, which in my professional opinion was “not great,” but other people claim is “pretty good, I guess.” Regardless of my opinions of his last movie, Bertino earned enough favor with his debut feature that he’ll have to crank out a shitload of turds for me to lose interest. Lucky for you, dear readers, The Monster is not a turd! Put THAT on a poster.
Never trust a mom if she has this stupid “mermaid” hair.
When Kathy (Zoe Kazan) and her daughter Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) hit the road on a dark and stormy night, they quickly run into some trouble, except by trouble, I mean a wolf. They are driving a car and hit a wolf. This movie sucks and I hate it. Luckily, the punishment for hitting a wolf is their car gets all fucked up and they have to wait for a tow truck AND an ambulance. However, when tending to the wolf they MURDERED, they see evidence that they might have dealt a fatal blow to the wolf, but it had clearly been injured by something more sinister. As the title implies, there is also a monster in the woods. I mean, that’s it. There’s a monster in the woods and the mother and daughter don’t want to get eaten by it so there’s screaming and running around. This is why I get paid the big bucks, because I can describe a movie as “there’s screaming and running around.” Just…just shut up.
I bet you thought I’d post a picture of the titular monster, didn’t you? DIDN’T YOU?! Nope, I couldn’t find one, so here’s more Zoe Kazan!
Hey, if you like movies about people trying to avoid monstrous creatures, then this one is pretty good! Much like Bertino did in Strangers, he establishes a tense relationship between the two leads to heighten the anxiety on-screen. In this case, he uses flashbacks to establish that Kathy is a pretty shitty mom who wishes she didn’t have a daughter, and Lizzy wishes he mom treated her better. When Kathy tries to calm Lizzy down, it’s not because she’s a supportive mother, but because she’s just sick of being stuck in a car with someone crying. Another strength of the movie is the cinematography. We’ve seen horror films taking place on rainy nights, but much like with Strangers, Bertino really knows how to frame a shot. He keeps the creature in the shadows as much as he can and shoots from inside the car often to really create a sense of safety inside the car but something terrifying and unknown just outside that shelter. For you monster movie fans, you’ll be relieved that the monster was created practically and not with CGI, but sadly, that also means the villain is a guy in a rubber suit, resembling what I imagine would be the result of a Xenomorph having sex with that thing from The Relic (and no, I don’t mean Penelope Ann Miller). The cat-and-mouse elements are fine, albeit predictable, but if monster movies are your thing, I’m sure you’ll dig it. Even if monster movies aren’t typically your thing, the cinematography and dramatic tension between the characters makes it stand out against similar storylines.
Wolfman Moon Scale