The other horror movie I saw was one simply called The Monster. But the film isn’t so simple as its’ title. This is one of those horror movies that isn’t about what you think. The Monster is really a drama dressed as a horror film.
Kathy is a mom that can’t get herself back on track after her husband leaves her and their daughter, Lizzy. Lizzy lives with her chain-smoking mom who drinks too much. Their relationship isn’t good. Lizzy has had to grow up too fast, being forced to take care of her mom when she finds her drunk on the bathroom floor.
One day Kathy is supposed to drive Lizzy to her dad’s but she sleeps too late and they end up not leaving until late in the day. As they drive along in the rain at night on the rural road, they blow a tire and hit a wolf in the road. Soon they find they are not alone out there, and I’m not talking about the guy in the tow truck that comes to help them.
The Monster is really well acted and written. Zoe Kazan plays Kathy, clearly harboring much resentment toward her ex-husband (played by Scott Speedman who I didn’t recognize) and that has manifested itself in too much booze and lashing out at Lizzy. As Lizzy, actress Ella Ballentine is wonderful. She plays her almost like an adult in a child’s body.
The film often flashes back to previous events in the lives of this mother and daughter, showing us much of what we need to know of how their relationship came to this place. They show us that there is much to be angry about, but that there is still love underneath.
The monster in the film is, on one hand, the creature that terrorizes them on this dark road, but it could also be Kathy, in Lizzy’s eyes. The creature here is really just a catalyst to bring out what lies beneath all the anger and resentment that boils over between Kathy and Lizzy.
And though there may be some mild cliche’s here and there in the horror aspect of The Monster, that’s not the important part of the film. What makes this movie so good is the drama of the relationship between Kathy and Lizzy. That is also, ironically, what might put off people looking for a gorefest monster movie. But I’m telling you, it’s so worth seeing.
The Monster is ultimately a satisfying horror film, but even more so as a drama. Pretty close to four kittenhands here. I definitely recommend The Monster. Writer and director Bryan Bertino (wrote The Strangers) is worth keeping an eye on.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, reminding you that both The Monster, as well as They Eyes of My Mother can currently be found On Demand.