Eric S Brown
Bryan Bertino likely best known for his film The Strangers. Its success gave him the chance to later direct a screenplay he had written entitled There are Monsters which was released in 2016 titled simply The Monster. Zoe Kazan was cast in the lead role with Ella Ballentine playing the role of her daughter.
The Monster isn’t what its title implies to many horror movie fans. There are no elaborate action scenes. The gore, and even the violence, is kept to a minimum level. Instead, the plot centers around a troubled, alcoholic, young mother named Kathy. Her ten year old daughter, Lizzy, has grown up being abused by, and taking care of, her mom. At the end of what will almost certainly be their last weekend together, Kathy drives Lizzy home to her father’s house. But because Kathy spent the night drinking, they leave much later than planned and are caught by nightfall and a heavy down pour while on the road. Kathy looses control of the car, hitting a wolf, then is forced to wait for both a tow truck and an ambulance. When the tow truck finally arrives, its driver is killed while working on the car. Kathy and Lizzy find themselves trapped in their car with a monster outside. Their fight for survival brings them closer, and the audience gets a disturbing look at their past through a series of ongoing flashbacks. This causes Kathy to realize what a monster she’s been, while Lizzy gains understanding that her mother really does love her despite everything she has done in the past.
The film is both powerful and emotionally driven. Kazan and Ballentine’s performance are top notch. For Kazan’s character, the movie is about redemption while Ballentine’s character learns both forgiveness and how to overcome the past. The end of The Monster is equally tragic and empowering.
If you’re a fan of horror that packs a punch, and is more than just gore and creature effects, The Monster is truly a must see film.