Movie Review: The Monster (2016)

Written and directed by Bryan Bertino (who also directed The Strangers), The Monster is a 2016 horror movie starring Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine. When Kathy (Kazan) hits a wolf mid road trip to drop Lizzy (Ballentine) off at Lizzy’s father’s house for custody, the pair find themselves stuck on a quiet, long and dark road in the middle of nowhere. Unbeknownst to them, a monster lurks in the surrounding woods, and the two will need to work together, despite Kathy’s alcoholism and abusiveness, if they wish to survive.

+ Ballentine again stars as Lizzy, following her fantastic performance in Standoff (which I reviewed here). I didn’t actually realise it was the same actress, though I was very impressed with her, and then it occurred to me I had seen her before. I was unfamiliar with Zoe Kazan, but her turn as alcoholic, abusive and all around horrible mother Kathy was surprisingly captivating
+ limiting the cast to just the above two, and only using a handful of extras sparingly, made for a very personal horror movie. With their past relationship shown via quite confronting flashbacks, it was still difficult to want to see either of the two have to suffer any more hardships
+ the monster is terrifying. Mostly shown in dark shadows, as a silhouette, the creature reminds me of some unholy mixture of a lizard and Marvel Comics’ venom. It’s really very scary, I mean, if it exists at all…

– much like many “monster movies”, once things are shown more clearly they really do lose the effect. The scariest thing is what our mind creates, and so showing too much detail does take some of that scare factor away

> I was impressed with Ballentine in Standoff, and I said I was looking forward to seeing more of her. Much like Maika Monroe, and now Anya Taylor-Joy, there may be a new wave of very talented actresses in the coming years

Should you see this film: To be honest, I didn’t think I would care for this movie. It has an unoriginal, though perhaps multiple-meaning title, which didn’t set my expectations high, but I was impressed overall. Very strong performances and a legitimately unnerving monster made for a very satisfying movie.

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