Friday, November 18, 2016
THE MONSTER (2016)
Written & Directed By: Bryan Bertino
Cinematography By: Julie Kirkwood
Editor: Maria Gonzales
Music By: Tomandandy
Cast: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Scott Speedman, Aaron Douglas
Kathy is the alcoholic and smoking addicted mother of the young, but mature teenager Lizzy. They live together since Kathy's husband Roy left her, and she neglects her daughter. Kathy is supposed to drive Lizzy to her father's home in the morning, but she sleeps until late afternoon and they have to travel during a rainy night. While driving through a lonely road through the woods, Kathy hits a wolf that breaks her car, leaving them stranded on the empty road. They call 911 and while waiting for the tow truck and an ambulance, the wolf disappears from the road. When the tow truck arrives, the mechanic Jesse tells that he needs to fix the axle and an oil leakage to tow her car. While repairing the vehicle, a monster attacks him but neither Kathy nor Lizzy note. When they seek Jesse out, they realize that they are not alone in the spot. Further, Kathy learns that monsters do exist. Will they be rescued on time?
This film has great pacing, great performances and great camerawork. So why does it feel so empty and unavailable.
One can see what director Bryan Bertino is going for but the film ends up being a bunch of superstar movies at once. A dysfunctional family and character study. Showing the damaged relationship between a mother and daughter. Who end up bonding through a random terrifying encounter. So you have both nose parallels. Which could work just as in his last film THE STRANGERS he had a relationship drama in the middle of a survival story set during a random home Invasion film.
Where as what worked there was the story kept moving forward. Here the problem is that anytime the film tries to go with the horrifying situation. The director decides to show us flashbacks of the bad relationship between her and her daughter. Which I guess he is trying to showcase times when their fractured relationship was just as scary but not life threatening. Which messes up the pacing of the film. As anytime it tries to send chills and thrills to the Audience it breaks it up. So I trying to be cerebral. The film ends up breaking the audiences concentration and they feel separate from the film.
It also leaves the film that is a tight 90 minutes to often feel dull. As the film Goes through the motions. Nothing g really surprising happens. It all comes off as typical. Which is why you can see the style and the director attempting something different. That doesn't work in the way that he tries to apply it. As pretty much it feels like overkill as we understand the strained relationship throughout the first act. As we continuously see examples of it. Really we understand from just the opening scene. As there Is so much detail in the performances and atmosphere. That after awhile it feels like repetition or that he really wants to show scenes that give the actors more time to shine. Instead of just being scared and trying to survive the monster.
The terror that they are facing also seems to resemble the Comic book character venom to a degree In design and while scary looking just feels random. The film doesn't offer too many victims for us to watch perish. Though at least the ones it does offer seem natural and not random just to come along in the films need for violence it really alarms to wake up the audience.
Though like his first film. The film mostly takes place in one location albeit a more open location.
Zoe Kazan finally gets more of a major role to shine in this film. Replacing the previously cast Elisabeth Moss. Though she has played leading and noteworthy roles before in films such as WHAT IF?, RUBY SPARKS, THE PRETTY ONE and REVOLTIONARY ROAD. Though like this film they were more independent. Though this one is more a genre film. Which she hasn’t really done before. Here she further cements her talents and comes across ore as a character actress in a stock role that feels familiar only put in a new setting.
The problem might just be that in an attempt to make a psychological thrilling horror film. The filmmakers actually went to far into the psychological. Making the film seem too thought out and forgetting here is an audience that seeks to be entertained somewhat. Rather then necessarily examine.
It's not a bad film but feels more like a well made sophmore slump. A film where the director has too many ideas or thinks way too much and drains the film of it's basics which the audience needs. In an effort to be different or special.
This is one of those almost films. It comes so close but ends up disappointing. I was rooting for it. It's a film I want to respect and like, but in all good conscience I can't. Even though I certainly see an audience who will enjoy it. As this is a film one can like in theory though not actually like watching it.