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Kathy is the alcoholic and smoking addicted mother of the young, but mature teenager Lizzy. They live together since Kathy's husband Roy left her, and she neglects her daughter. Kathy is supposed to drive Lizzy to her father's home in the morning, but she sleeps until late afternoon and they have to travel during a rainy night. While driving through a lonely road through the woods, Kathy hits a wolf that breaks her car, leaving them stranded on the empty road. They call 911 and while waiting for the tow truck and an ambulance, the wolf disappears from the road. When the tow truck arrives, the mechanic Jesse tells that he needs to fix the axle and an oil leakage to tow her car. While repairing the vehicle, a monster attacks him but neither Kathy nor Lizzy note. When they seek Jesse out, they realize that they are not alone in the spot. Further, Kathy learns that monsters do exist. Will they be rescued on time? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
As children, we often have irrational fears of things we have not being given a proper introduction to - We are told numerous stories, some still ignoring the lingering question we harbor deep within - Our Monsters Real? - Or an allegory of our very existence? This idea is effectively used in recent films such as, 'The Babadook', 'It Follows', 'The Witch' and 'Under the Shadow'. Director Bryan Bertino ('The Strangers') shares a similar notion of this with 'The Monster'.
Kathy (Zoe Kazan) a divorced alcoholic and inexperienced mother is taking her young and mature of age daughter, Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), to permanently relocate with Lizzy's father. While driving at night through a remote, rain-lashed forest, Kathy crashes into a wolf, which wrecks their car leaving them stranded for help - Waiting for a tow truck and ambulance. From here on, questions are raised - Where did the wolf come from? What was it running from? Where'd it get those deep cuts on its body? Or where did the body disappear too? Strangely these questions are not justifiably asked by Kathy, but by Lizzy.
The only voice of reason!
Ella Ballentine is the standout here - reminiscent of a young Reese Witherspoon. Inquisitive, timid, fearful and courageously carrying the weight of 'The Monster', as she has spent much of her youth taking care of herself - and her mother - Through flashbacks provided. One in particular truly showing her acting chops. Zoe Kazan also great as Kathy tries to maintain her sobriety while navigating and understanding the needs of her daughter - Yes an overused device in Hollywood - But effective still none the less.
Scott Speedman shows us halfway through the movie with little to say or do, perhaps a favor to Bertino, whom he directed in 'The Strangers'.
Cinematographer Julie Kirkwood offers very little to appreciate here - With Bertino not fully utilizing her until the third act - With a beautiful shot of the enclosed woods. The monster itself plays a minor role - As the full look of it seems rather cheap.
Overall 'The Monster' may not hold up well with most allegory horror films, but it will stand on its own merit for Ella Ballentine - As she comes face to face with the monster - Or are understanding of what it means to let go and grow up - Afterall monsters are only what we make of them.
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