Monstrous: The BRWC Review

Monstrous: The BRWC Review

Chris Sivertson’s supernatural thriller has the look and feel of a horror movie. It follows similar tropes and plot devices, not to mention the scenario itself; Laura (Christina Ricci) and her 7-year-old son Cody (Santino Barnard) flee her abusive ex-husband to an isolated lakeside house in California.

The film opens with Laura and Cody driving across country to their new abode. The period detail is stunning. The costumes, set-design and sun-drenched locations are filmed in bright, warm pastel shades. It’s breezily atmospheric, the mystery and tension still yet to come, slowly building as events unfold.

Settling into their new life proves difficult. Cody is alienated at school while Laura receives much disdain from the owners of her new house. Left to fend for themselves, their bond is solidified by their dependancy on each other.

The supernatural elements begin when Cody starts seeing ghostly apparitions coming from the lake and around the house, though there is less emphasis on a tangible presence than on Laura and Cody themselves. Indeed, throughout the film it is with them whom we spend the most time, allowing us to sympathise and become invested in their plight.

In this way the story doesn’t adhere strictly to the conventional horror formula as its appearance initially suggests, relying more upon the psychological state of mind, particularly of Laura, as opposed to jump-scares or special-effects, and is all the better for it.

Ricci carries the film pretty much singlehandedly. It’s a strong performance and she is a pleasure to watch. The close relationship between mother and son is palpable, played with a nice mix of overprotectiveness coupled with her own anxiety.

From the outset Sivertson establishes a solid background and plot. It is unfortunate that the pace drags towards the third act, veering off course as Laura becomes increasingly confused and delusional in her own mind. This minor flaw aside, Monstrous is an intriguingly haunting and melancholy mystery which holds the interest right up to its unpredicted payoff.

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Thomas is a musician, writer and film enthusiast with a broad taste in films, from Big Night to The Big Combo. When he isn’t immersed in these activities his passions extend to the kitchen and food.