The Monster (2016) – Dark and Beautiful: Not Your Average Monster Story

In the horror world, it seems more often than not, a movie will receive extremely mixed reviews. Either people will love it with the utmost passion or completely loathe it. Rarely is there a middle man. You see this with such movies as Babadook, It Follows, and The Witch. It can also be said about a recent horror film I watched called The Monster (2016). Did it live up to its hype?

The Monster was directed and written by Bryan Bertino who is best known for his film, The Strangers. Starring Zoe Kazan and Ella Bellatine, this disturbingly superb film delivers a completely different type of story, with a plotline that is uniquely beautiful, characters that are undeniably familiar, outstanding cinematography and special effects, and an ending that comes together wonderfully to create something we haven’t seen before.

At first, I wasn’t sure if there would actually be a “monster” or if it was just a metaphor. There is most definitely a real life, man-eating creature; however, I believe it represented both the real thing and the relationship between the daughter and mother. In so many ways, the mother acted like a genuine monster, and the film shows the constant battle between the two in brutal flashbacks, while in the present they have to work together to survive the creature of the night. This is barely touching the surface of what this story was all about. It’s definitely something you need to see and experience for yourself.

the monser
The mother (Lizzy) played by Zoe Kazan

The characters and the actors who play them are the highlight of the film and what makes it stand out above many others in the genre. Giving an award-winning performance as the mother, Zoe Kazan had me glued to the screen as I followed her character on an emotional journey. You can feel the pain she is in and how, despite her actions, she truly regrets any harm she’s every bestowed upon her daughter.

The Monster
Lizzy played by Ella Ballentine

As a young actress chock-full of pure talent, Ella Ballentine gives an equally stunning performance as Lizzy. Throughout the film, Lizzy’s mother tells her, “I need you to be brave now.” I think Ella portrayed bravery and strength throughout the film as she faced both kinds of monsters despite how hurt or scared she was. She was a true hero and little badass! I can’t wait to see her upcoming work.

Zoe and Ella

Overall, what stood out about these two characters was their connection. This was a mother and daughter that had several problems, but still loved each other unconditionally. A scene that stood out to me and affected me emotionally was when the mother was painfully ill from drinking too much and passed out next to the toilet. Her daughter layed down beside her, wrapping her arms around her. Way to tear at my heart strings. Powerful stuff, man. Powerful stuff.

Last but not least, I thought the special effects were subtle yet extremely effective, much like the official poster, which is what made me want to see it in the first place. I loved how they didn’t show much of the monster at first, leaving it a bit of a mystery. Is it real? Is it not real? Plus, the cinematography and art direction was beautiful. The pitch blackness throughout the film really sets the tone and atmosphere for the story.

Final Thoughts:

I believe that this is the type of horror film that will have a huge impact on some, while others won’t appreciate what it has to offer. It’s not your average monster story; hell, it’s far more than a monster story. It’s raw, beautiful, and heart-wrenching. What it lacks in blood and guts (there’s some), it makes up for by psychologically fucking with us. So, are your ready to have you first encounter with The Monster?



About Tori Danielle

Tori has had a passion for Horror and music ever since she was a little girl. She got bit by the writing bug in high school where she was involved in both the school newspaper and the yearbook. While getting her Bachelors degree, she took Journalism and Creative Writing classes where her passion grew even stronger. Now, in between work and family, she spends all of her spare time indulging in music, Horror movies, and nerdy fandoms, all while running/assisting one of the biggest Horror groups on Facebook and writing for various websites.

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