THE MONSTER (2016) Reviews and overview

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The Monster is a 2016 American horror drama film written, co-produced and directed by Bryan Bertino (director of Mockingbird and The Strangers; co-producer of He’s Out ThereStephanie and The Blackcoat’s Daughter). The production title was There Are Monsters.

The film’s soundtrack is by tomandandy (47 Meters Down; Havenhurst; Sinister 2).

The film was released through DirecTV Cinema on October 6, 2016, before a limited theatrical release on November 11, 2016, by A24 (The Blackcoat’s Daughter; Swiss Army Man; The Witch).

Blu-ray and DVD releases, with an ‘Eyes in the Darkness’ featurette are scheduled for January 24 via Lionsgate and A24.


Meanwhile, the creature feature is currently available via video-on-demand.

Main cast:

Zoe Kazan (In Your Eyes, Fracture), Scott Speedman (Underworld), Ella Ballentine (The Captive).



A divorced mother (Zoe Kazan) and her headstrong daughter must make an emergency late night road trip to see the girl’s father.

As they drive through deserted country roads on a stormy night, they suddenly have a startling collision that leaves them shaken but not seriously hurt. Their car, however, is dead, and as they try in vain to get help, they come to realize they are not alone on these desolate backroads – a terrifying evil is lurking in the surrounding woods, intent on never letting them leave…



“To see a high caliber filmmaker take a stab at this impossible subgenre is exciting, even if it’s a bit clunky in the end. With that said, the monster is pretty cool, and vicious, leaving a bloodbath in its wake.” Bloody Disgusting

“The film occasionally terrifies, occasionally fizzles, and the weird mix doesn’t always work, but Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine still knock it completely out of the park. With his talent to get great performances out of his actors, maybe Bryan Bertino should next try focusing his talent on another blend of genres?” Screen Anarchy

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-12-59-27“Like The Strangers, the result is a simple but skillfully told shocker. Bertino makes nerve-shredding use of his 30-miles-from-the-middle-of-nowhere setting, while flashbacks deepen our knowledge of the two protagonists’ tortured relationship.” Entertainment Weekly

“Overall, The Monster is a chilling movie that showcases two fantastic performances and the work of a filmmaker who’s willing to take some risks and makes it a priority to truly envelop the viewer in a nightmarish situation. It’s an engaging and worthy watch that teases great potential in everyone involved.” Collider

“By the time that The Monster reveals itself to be a horror film, we’re so engrossed in Kathy and Lizzy’s pain that the arrival of the titular menace strikes us as an authentic violation of normality, rather than as a ghoul arriving on demand per the dictates of the screenplay. The film has an eerily WTF arbitrariness that should be the domain of more films in the genre.” Slant magazine


“With The Monster, writer-director Bryan Bertino plants a prickly mother-daughter drama at the center of a violent creature feature. It’s an intriguing combination in theory, but the individual elements both feel a little half-baked, and stirring them up into one doesn’t help. They’re two mediocre tastes that taste mediocre together.” A.V. Club

“It’s so simple, that some horror fans might resent its seeming lack of interest in going into the nature of its menace – but, like The Strangers, it’s also a very effective fright machine, with telling, spiky character touches.” The Kim Newman Web Site

“We see perhaps a little too much of the monster towards the end but it’s still a genuinely menacing beast, but it’s the relationship between the mother and daughter, fighting their own monsters, which makes the film resonate beyond the frights.” Starburst magazine

“Ballentine gives a fine, fierce performance as a child wise beyond her years and unafraid of confrontation. And Kazan … is unsurprisingly excellent in a role that calls for her to play both a raging alcoholic and a down-and-dirty scream queen, all while ultimately clawing her way to a bloody form of redemption.” Los Angeles Times

” …Bertino aims high with this violent chiller, but the material’s quest to be a profound study of dysfunction always outshines its horror ambitions. It’s a slow effort, painfully so at times, but the reward is a sharp psychological study that ends up being the most interesting conflict in the movie.”

Cast and characters:

  • Zoe Kazan as Kathy
  • Scott Speedman as Roy
  • Ella Ballentine as Lizzy
  • Aaron Douglas as Jesse
  • Christine Ebadi as Leslie
  • Chris Webb as Monster

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