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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 11.10.16] horror

In Bryan Bertino's The Monster, a mother and daughter must fight for survival against a vicious monster on a secluded stretch of highway.

The film is a clever metaphor for a troubled relationship, the monster a stand-in for a mother's fight against alcoholism and the battle to win back the trust and love for a daughter that has been let down too many times. Don't let that fact make you worry it doesn't deliver in the horror department because it still packs a hell of a vicious punch.

I really liked The Monster. The performances are especially strong with Zoe Kazan and young Ella Ballentine bringing all the emotions to bear on the material. It's contained and focused, a clear scenario that lets the character conflicts be front and centre.

But man is it bleak. Bleak and cold and wet and hard. And then gruesome. This is a no holds barred vision from a director who is not afraid to be very honest about the vision he has. Though I would say there is a ton more humanity here than in The Strangers.

Creature design legends, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr., designed the titular monster and it is a great practical achievement. Like a black hole of evil, all teeth and claws, it's reminiscent of the kinds of monsters we saw in the 80s.

We've seen this idea worked out in the recent Badabook. But if Jennifer Kent's vision was a bit fanciful for you and you were put off by the revelation about the monster in that movie at the end, then you will probably prefer how the subject matter is handled in The Monster.


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umm (6 years ago) Reply

surely saying its all a metaphor etc is a spoiler?


Christopher (6 years ago) Reply

No, it really isn't. Promise.


RayGun (6 years ago) Reply

Ella Ballentine's performance is oscar worthy. Holy shit it was emotional. Kazan holds her own as well.

The movie is worth the watch, but there really is some stupid parts that completely cheapen the whole emotional experience just for the sake of a lazy horror setup (the whole truck driver scenario).

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