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Book of Monsters Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Epic Pictures / DREAD

Book Of Monsters Large

Directed by Stewart Sparke
Written by Paul Butler
2019, 84 minutes, Not Rated
Released on March 19th, 2019

Starring:
Lyndsey Craine as Sophie
Michaela Longden as Mona
Lizzie Stanton as Beth
Daniel Thrace as Gary
Rose Muirhead as Jess
Anna Dawson as Aria

Book Of Monsters 01 Book Of Monsters 02

Review:

Have you ever heard the expression “honesty in advertising”? Of course you have! I’m absolutely nuts about it myself. When you shoot straight with me and roll it up with a singular vibe (i.e. fun, schlock, gore, comedy), you’ll win me over every time, even if your film isn’t a technical masterpiece. You can see where I’m going with this.

Book of Monsters is the sophomore effort from the UK writing and directing combo of Paul Butler and Stewart Sparke (The Creature Below). Sophie (Lyndsey Craine; The Creature Below) is about to turn 18 years old, and it’s time for her big party. The only problem is that she’s not popular; in fact, she’s known as the crazy kid who believes her mother was killed by the Boogeyman under the bed. The kicker is (naturally) that she’s not crazy at all. Her mother was a monster hunter who read to her every night from the titular Book of Monsters, preparing her for life as a monster hunter. With her big day, a prophecy is fulfilled as all hell literally breaks loose and looks to make a sacrifice out of Sophie. How rude!

Book Of Monsters 03 Book Of Monsters 04

Brought to life through a Kickstarter campaign, Book of Monsters is a work of pure heart and passion. One look at the trailer alone tells you exactly what you are in for – a pure creature feature with heavy doses of black humor and insane practical gore SFX. The late ‘80s vibe of going for the gusto without taking itself seriously is in full effect. Honesty in advertising, right? And goddamn – look at that poster! A thing of beauty, I tell you.

The nearly all-female cast gives standout performances all around. Craine is a lovely lead, a little vulnerable and seriously strong in the same Final Girl breath. She’s not alone, though, and her friends are not cardboard stereotypes. These are legit female heroines, and we could always use more of those in the horror genre (and we’re thankfully getting them). Particular kudos go to Michaela Longden. She just grabs the eye and holds; her freckled beauty and go fuck yourself attitude are hypnotic in both of her roles (no spoilers... you’ll see what I mean).

The all-practical SFX are fantastic by and large, and highlight a project clearly made for the fans. The key monsters have an old-school look, which isn’t technically brilliant but a whole lot of fun. And the gore?! Oh boy – there are people split in half, torn at the middle, squashed heads, and some dick-chomping yard gnomes that must be seen to be believed. I kept expecting to see a Full Moon or Troma logo somewhere on this homage to films like Army of Darkness.

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The pacing, especially in the middle, is a bit of an issue. It’s a bit of a catch-22, really – you have to establish the storyline and build Sophie as a protagonist, but the movie is so clearly batshit and splattery that it causes a drag in the middle third. That’s hardly a nail in the coffin, but it is noticeable. Still, counterbalanced against all that enthusiasm, it’s a mere critical gripe.

Book of Monsters is lot of fun. There’s nothing to take seriously in the best way you can pull off that trick. The creative duo of Sparke and Butler and the cast (many of whom they’ve worked with before) are building a nice rapport and flavor. Furthermore, they’ve set up a sequel rather nicely and clearly intend to follow that. Something tells me they’ll have an audience for it.

Creature features with a screwed-up sense of humor never go out of style, after all.

Book Of Monsters 07 Book Of Monsters 08

Grades:

Movie: Threeandahalfstars Book Of Monsters Small
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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