‘The past can pull you under’
Monstrous is a 2022 American horror film about a traumatized woman fleeing from her abusive ex-husband with her seven-year-old son. Unfortunately, in their new, remote sanctuary they find they have an even bigger, more terrifying monster to deal with…
Directed by Chris Sivertson (Heartthrob; Dark Intentions; All Cheerleaders Die 2013) from a screenplay by Carol Chrest (The Prophet’s Game).
Produced by Kurtis Anton, Kathy Sue Holtorf, Timmy Nolan, Johnny Remo, B.I. Rosen, Rob Simmons, Carol Anne Watts, Sasha Yelaun and Robert Yocum.
The movie stars Christina Ricci (The Matrix Resurrections; Distorted; After. Life; Sleepy Hollow; The Addams Family), Santino Barnard, Don Baldaramos, Colleen Camp (The House with a Clock in Its Walls; The Vagrant; Wicked Stepmother), Lew Temple and Carol Anne Watts.
Monstrous is a well-crafted film that highlights issues such as domestic abuse, loneliness, disaffection, alcoholism and mundane soulless office work in ways that gradually draw the viewer in. It’s beautifully shot, if somewhat twee, and the editing is excellent.
The 50s Americana that forms the basis of the movie is generally nicely done although it occasionally comes across as a tad heavy-handed (Hotpoint ads, ad nausea) during certain parts. What elevates the film entirely is Christina Ricci’s nuanced and believable performance. It’s not really a spoiler to say there’s a twist and most viewers will work out what to expect. Overall, Monstrous is a slightly flawed yet worthwhile watch.
“Visually, the monster draws from appropriate sources such as ’50s B movies, and its role eventually becomes clear […] Monstrous is one of those tricky films that plays a little slowly but invites a second viewing after the pay-off. Nonetheless, it’s a quietly thought-provoking watch that will resonate with those who connect to its themes.” Deadline
“Monstrous has an intriguing premise but sadly the execution lets it down. It never manages to find the balance between creepy and dramatic, and despite Ricci’s best efforts the film isn’t great. Visually the sets and costumes looks magnificent, but narratively Monstrous will leave you wanting a whole lot more.” 3/5 Entertainment Focus
“The plot itself is a well-trodden one, most closely resembling Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook. Whereas Kent’s film was shrouded in dark lighting and colours, Monstrous allows sunshine and bright colours to camouflage the true horror of the piece. The familiarity of parts of the story do have some interesting new aspects woven in, and though some may have the journey of Monstrous plotted early on, it doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the piece.” 4/5 The Hollywood News
“In an admirably smart move from director Chris Silvertson […] we only see the monster sparingly […] The focus instead stays on the trauma of Laura’s past. Character depth and Ricci’s committed turn as a fiercely protective mother is just the swamp-drenched cherry on top. I wish the strengths of the latter half folded seamlessly into the slowly-paced first act; as it stands, Monstrous is a solid enough horror/mystery.” 3/5 Josh at the Movies
“It’s sparing with clues, though they are sprinkled in fairly and all make sense when the third act sums up and explains the mysteries. Sivertson has a knack with terrifying set-pieces, like the appearances of the lake monster, as well as the unsettling seepage of the sinister into an ordinary world. The 1950s setting is intriguingly used…” The Kim Newman Web Site
“Pacing wise, there is a slump towards the end of the second act, that perhaps a stronger edit may have helped alleviate, however a satisfying, and surprising third act ties everything together and pays off everything that has been built up previously […] Intelligent and ultimately thought-provoking, Monstrous is a low budget indie success…” Ready Steady Cut
“A terrific sense of foreboding is crafted as atmospheric music plays alongside interesting camera placement, be it in slow panning shots or the nightmares occurring below the water. What’s created is an affecting story about guilt and confronting traumatic truths, anchored by a terrific lead performance from Ricci.” The Reviewing Rodders
“To writer Carol Chrest’s credit, it remains largely ambiguous as to whether this squelchy supernatural stalker is genuine or a manifestation of collective trauma; the fact that Laura can’t find help for either possibility is a palpable frustration. Indeed, it’s with this idea of the gaslighting of vulnerable women — a mainstay in horror cinema — that the film makes its most interesting explorations.” Screen Daily
“Monstrous is a frightening and affecting story of the lengths a mother will go to in order to protect her son. With clever period details, intriguing cinematography, and eerie creature effects, the film places you in a very specific time and place to underscore the darkness hiding below the surface of this intense mother-child relationship. Christina Ricci gives a terrific performance…” We Who Walk Here
Monstrous had its international premiere at FrightFest in Glasgow on March 12th 2022.
In the USA, Screen Media, the Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment company, will release Monstrous theatrically and On-Demand (VOD) on May 13th 2022.
Cast and characters:
Christina Ricci … Laura
Santino Barnard … Cody
Don Baldaramos … Mr Langtree
Colleen Camp … Mrs Langtree
Lew Temple … Mr Alonzo
Carol Anne Watts … Jane
Peter Hodge … Policeman
Nick Vallelonga … Legionnaire
Sally Elbert … Grandmother
Rachael Edlow … Young Grandmother
Chris Mullinax … Doctor Weaver (voice)
Darin Cooper … Tow Truck Driver
Olivia Reid … Receptionist
Philip V. Bruenn … Hero
Nancy O’Fallon … Mom (VO)
Lola Grace Combs … Young Laura
Simi Valley, California
1 hour 29 minutes
Aspect ratio: 2.35: 1