One of the most relatable and disturbing areas of horror cinema is that of a victim being hunted by a predator. This often takes the form of a serial killer (Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street etc), but more recently the terror of being hunted by an unknown entity/force (A Quiet Place, It Follows) has proved popular. In The Monster, Bryan Bertino returns to the familiar ground of his first film, The Strangers, whilst injecting an element of the supernatural.
10-year-old Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) is tired of taking care of her alcoholic and abusive mother Kathy (Zoe Kazan). On the way to her father’s house to be dropped off as part of the custody arrangements, Lizzy announces that she wants to live with him full-time. Dazed and on edge, Kathy hits a wolf and they crash; killing the animal and totalling the car. After a tow truck arrives, she notices that the wolf’s corpse has mysteriously vanished. As does Jessie (Aaron Douglas), the recovery driver.
The Monster is an atmospheric horror which uses the elements and its surrounding to chilling effect. Whilst the premise brings to mind Stephen King’s Cujo, it’s the addition of an entirely human drama which makes it so powerful. It’s beautifully shot, with the darkness of the woods and the torrential rain providing a particularly creepy backdrop. The monster itself provides the tension and terror but the title isn’t necessarily referring to what lurks in the dark.
The Monster is released on DVD and Digital by Icon Film Distribution on 8 October.