The Monster (2016)

I kept hearing about this film  from the usual podcasts and movies community I frequent.  The trailer looked decent and I haven’t seen a good creature movie in awhile so it went on my ‘to see’ mental list of about a million titles I have that I need to sit down with.  Then I heard it was written and directed by Bryan Bertino of The Strangers fame so it instantly went to the top of my list.  If he could pull out the tension and terror he did in The Strangers and put that into a creature film I was sold.  In full disclosure AFTER I had rented the film and watched it I was contacted by Lionsgate about a screener copy.  Which I said yes.

The movie starts out as more of a drama about a mother and daughter who are at odds with each other.  It’s obvious this is a young mother who was not ready to be a mother and a young daughter that has had become the adult in her household because her mother is more concerned with partying and having a good time than being a responsible mom.

The story moves forward with the mother Kathy played by Zoe Kazan taking her daughter to stay with her father for a while.  They of course get on the road about 5 hours late because the mother can’t seem to get over her hangover long enough to get ready.  This sets the stage for them to have a car accident on a lonely country road.

From there we’re treated to a tense single location film as a monster seems to be lurking in the forest on either side of the road.  In this movie the question isn’t ‘are monsters real’ but instead ‘what do would you do when you find out they are very real?’.

Both actresses do an amazing job and you really believe in their stress filled relationship.  Ella Ballentine does as great job as the daughter Lizzy.  It’s not hard to completely believe her fear and survival spirit.

I thought the creature design was well done.  I like seeing practical monster effects on screen.  It’s not a design that is going to blow any minds and we’ve actually seen designs close to this before.  In fact the Blu Ray cover of this reminds me a little too much of the poster for Feast.

The only problem I really had was a small character decision towards the end of the film that doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me.  I could see some arguments for why it is there but in the end fell completely flat for me but I did my best to not let it ruin the film for me.

The only special feature on the blu ray is a featurette called Eyes In The Darkness which is just a quick behind the scenes look.  I had hoped for a little more on the creature design and story elements but in this streaming world such things are becoming less and less a priority.

All in all I would say that this is worth your time.  Pop some popcorn, turn the lights off, and just let this creature feature take you away.

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