MONSTROUS Movie Review
Written by Ryan Holloway
Released by Uncork'd Entertainment
Directed by Bruce Wemple
Written by Anna Shields
2020 86 minutes, Not Rated
Released on August 11th, 2020
Anna Shields as Sylvia
Rachel Finninger as Alex
Grant Schumacher as Jamie
Hannah McKechnie as Molly
Catharine Daddario as Haley
Anna Shields (The Executioners) writes and stars in this twisty-turny tale about Sylvia, a young woman who, along with her Bigfoot-believer friend Jamie (Schumacher), seeks to find out what really happened to their friend Dana, who disappeared in Whitehall, NY, a town known for its Bigfoot sightings.
Their only clue is a woman called Alex (Finninger), who posted an ad for someone to drive her to her home in the notorious town, which Dana had responded to prior to her disappearance. When Alex posts another ad, with the same request, Sylvia decides to play detective and drive her to Whitehall in search of answers.
Although Monstrous has been put together pretty well, its low budget unfortunately only serves to hinder what is actually a pretty solid idea. Those looking for an out and out monster movie will be sorely disappointed as, while the hairy one does make a couple of appearances, it’s hardly a pivotal role in a film that actually has a lot more going on.
Shields plays Sylvia very well, vulnerable and sweet, yet clearly carrying baggage from a family tragedy years ago that we are only invited to see snippets of here and there. She is also very well written, again due to Shields’ talents at the keyboard, making dangerous but believable decisions based on a trauma that has dictated her whole life up until this point.
When Sylvia drives Alex to her home there is a clear spark between the two and when they arrive at the house a love affair erupts amidst the tension. As the two women get closer Sylvia begins to let her guard down and confesses as to exactly why she answered Alex’s ad. This sets a somewhat ominous tone and we start to see a shift in Alex. Does she have something to hide?
As the tension mounts and trust is broken between the pair the film goes into full thriller mode. Bestie Jamie, worried about his friend after days of radio silence, drives up to Whitehall. What will he find when he gets there, and will he get to see the monster that he has long believed in?
Monstrous, at its heart, is a very decent story and it does have some great moments of tension but it’s all just too frustratingly slow and often just a little naïve. Had the script fallen into the lap of a more experienced team with a bit of money behind them it could have been a very different beast (sorry) altogether. The secluded couple set-up is quite similar to 2018’s cult hit What Keeps You Alive but here the tension is strangely diffused by a creature that actually becomes a distraction in its own film.
Shields and Finninger are great to watch, the latter perfectly playing the charming stranger with something to hide, while Shields is very capable at drawing us in and ensuring investment in a film that can become muddled. Monstrous definitely works best when it is concentrating on characters but too often goes off at a tangent, perhaps in an attempt to satisfy an audience that is clearly after a monster movie.
I have no doubt that we’ll be seeing more of Shields and Finninger, but after this outing Bigfoot remains a mystery.
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