Stranded in the middle of nowhere, a young woman and her daughter find themselves being stalked by something vicious. Part creature feature, part family drama, The Monster is a moderate horror film that favors a slower pace. With an intriguing monster and background story, it’s disappointing that this film struggled with many of the easier scenes. It’s within the horror-centric scenes where many of its faults lie.
Young Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) embarks on a road trip with her alcoholic mother Kathy (Zoe Kazan). The two have a strained relationship filled with drunken nights, hungover mornings, and verbal abuse. Lizzy, ready for a visit with her Dad, requests that they drive through the night instead of making any pit stops. The less time she spends with her mother, the better.
While passing through dense woods late at night, made no better by rain, Kathy hits a wolf. The two get out to examine the poor animal and find a large tooth embedded in its side. While Kathy assumes it was another animal, Lizzy has a feeling there is something more menacing out there. As the mysterious creature slowly unveils itself and becomes more violent, the two must put their differences aside and fight for survival.
We have a very complex story about a neglected child and her alcoholic mother. Their relationship and issues are played out in a series of flashbacks as they are trapped in the woods. While the story is wonderfully told in general, and their issues with each other unfold in a heartbreaking and unsuspecting way, the faults within the horror side of this film prove to be something the viewer can’t help but nag at.
There are those typical cliched moves that characters make that are obviously annoying to some degree. It’s sometimes the stupidity of these characters, and their means of survival, that are hard to grasp. There are just better ways to approach storytelling on a horror side than what this film provided. It was quite surprising to find that Bryan Bertino, who wrote and directed 2008’s The Strangers, also wrote and directed this film. The pacing is very similar, and stylistically as well. As far as actual horror and capability of these characters, I feel there’s a disconnect from his previous work.
While it’s an okay horror film, certainly not the worst I’ve seen, I find myself wanting to correct its mistakes more than I felt I enjoyed watching it. It’s a drama that just so happens to take place during an event that would be best fit to count as a scary movie, but it’s not. I didn’t hate it, just very underwhelmed.
You can find The Monster on Amazon Video for free now with Prime.
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