• Audrey Walter

The Monster: Indie Snoozefest

A Monster Movie With No Point

The Monster is a 2016 horror film directed by Bryan Bertino, who most notably directed The Strangers (2008). Unlike The Strangers, this similarly titled movie runs flat. Extremely flat.

I ran across a post on Instagram that talked about how this movie was under A24 and that they made the monster with all practical effects. All practical effects? A24? Count me in! Pretty decent reviews? Awesome! What I didn’t know is that I would be viewing one of the worst movies I have seen in a while.

The film follows a mother and daughter duo that has a tumultuous relationship. The mother, Kathy (Zoe Kazan), is struggling with addiction and is abusive to her daughter. What a great start! Sarcasm, but I figured it would play out and make sense somehow.

Anyway, she’s on a drive to drop off Lizzy (Ella Balentine), her daughter, to her father. Which is where she belongs, to be honest. Kathy laments about how her daughter will choose the father over her, but honestly, Lizzy should. During this drive, Kathy seems to hit a wolf and spins out of control. The two both realize the wolf was running from something. But what could a wolf be running from? Well, something scarier I presume.

This is basically the entire plot of the movie.

They call for help, monster eats help, monster tries to kill mother and daughter. It’s that simple. Even the location is simple. For the majority of the movie, viewers will be watching a dark road in the middle of a forest. To pull off a one-location movie, you have to make it interesting, like the first Saw movie. But The Monster is far from interesting.

First, the movie creates unnecessary drama between the mother and daughter. Why? Because without it, the movie would only be about the monster. They had to spice it up somehow. And the “spice” was an abusive relationship that went nowhere. Why create the discourse if you’re never going to touch on it?

Throughout the film, we see flashbacks of times Kathy was a complete bitch to her daughter. And? We get it, she’s an awful mother. What does it have to do with the monster? I feel like there was supposed to be some connection that the mother was the monster. A movie where the child believes in monsters and the whole movie we believe it too until GASP it reveals that the mother was the monster all along! There, I rewrote the movie and it’s already better.

It’s frustrating seeing that kind of dynamic used for pointless reasons. It didn’t add anything to the movie. And even still, the acting was not up to par. Usually, movies that are B-list have some talent nowadays. Not saying Zoe Kazan doesn’t have talent, but this film was not her strong point. I believe that came from the script. The timing was awkward and the things Kathy said felt very forced. It was an unnatural feeling. It almost cements the forced mother-daughter dynamic.

Forced characters, forced dialogue.

And the monster? It looked like a cross between a wolf’s head and the xenomorphs from Alien. There was no background on the monster. No prior killings in the newspaper, no sightings, nothing. It just appears and keeps guard over that particular strip of land. The monster doesn’t seem to have any empathy until the end, conveniently standing right in front of Lizzy so that she can miraculously light it on fire.

So convenient.

My Verdict?

Can you tell I’m genuinely mad at this movie? It felt like someone made this because they were bored. They saw Alien and were inspired. Yet it was an uninspired and drab film. Pointless and forced. I would love to give this movie a zero, but I’ll give it a one, simply because the movie was on the shorter side so I didn’t have to waste more time watching it. I recommend this movie to no one. Save yourself the time and money!

I give The Monster a 1/10.

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