As far as horror or monster movies are concerned, they’re usually talked about or anticipated more than whatever advertisement The Monster received, because to tell the truth, I knew very little about this other than what people have told me – that the guy that made The Strangers made this. Why is that of any concern? Well to be fair, The Strangers was a decent horror film that presented things in a really creepy light and never once stooped down to basic Hollywood horror stereotypes around. So people were invested in The Monster even though they knew little about it. Does it pay off? Let’s get into it.
The plot of this film is incredibly simple, yet so absolutely deep at the same time. It’s about a mother and daughter taking a road trip to see the child’s grandmother supposedly to transfer custody. When they unexpectantly hit a wolf in the middle of the road, they are stuck waiting for an ambulance and tow truck. What they have yet to discover, however, is that there is a monster that lurks in the darkness of the woods.
So, the plot of this film is simplistic, but the character development is everything but. While watching, you start asking yourself if the monster in question is really the mother, because she isn’t the best mom out there. She has a problem with drinking, she’s irresponsible, and is verbally and sometimes physically abusive. She has a problem, for sure. She makes her daughter do practically everything. She makes her call the ambulance, call her father, get out of the car to deal with the tow truck man. If she could make her drive the car too…she would. Throughout all this, Zoe Kazan does a remarkable job portraying that type of parent. I’ve always enjoyed her work, and as far as her acting career goes…this was phenomenal.
When you think about it, the story is almost about redemption and working together in the middle of something unbelievably difficult. Even though you don’t love Kazan’s character, you somehow love the back and forth chemistry she has with this strong and brave child. In fact, this film is way more dramatic than it is suspenseful or “scary”. While the beginning holds a decent amount of suspense, that passes as soon as you get a better look at the thing hiding in the woods. From there on out, it’s typical and you’re only in it for the drama. In order to really make this film work, they should have focused more on sounds, of things moving in the corner…creeping darkness…like in The Strangers.
I really wanted to be creeped out by this film. I wanted the sheer idea of monsters to bring me back to my childhood and force me to fear what lurks beneath my bed or what shifts in the closet when I’m not looking. However, The Monsters doesn’t do that. It presents a couple of really interesting and heavily developed characters, and it is cast by extremely talented actresses, but the monster itself is where the film lacks. Yes, it is an original monster movie, and we don’t get those enough these days. However, you’ll notice a clear divide when it came to the suspense and when it came to the drama/acting. In the end, it’s a decent movie, it just isn’t what I thought it would be. Check it out for yourself!