Horrortoberfest ’20 Day 22 – The Monster (2016)


Monster Week continues with more very appropriately named movies. One of the things that I always like about monster movies in particular is trying to figure out what the monster represents. I feel like monsters tend to be much more representational than, say, slasher films or even your average ghost story. When dealing with a story like we get here, it’s pretty clear to see what the monster represents.

Lizzie is 10 years old and lives her mother, Kathy. Kathy is, to put it mildly, a mess. An alcoholic that tries her best but just fails repeatedly at being a decent mom. Having had enough, Lizzie is going to go live with her dad and has to deal with her mom for one more day as she drives her out to him. While on the road late at night in the rain, they hit a wolf in the road and get stranded. Now, whatever was hunting to the wolf to make it run out into the road is hunting them. They have to find a way to escape but there’s nowhere to hide from the monster.

Throughout the movie, we get flashbacks to times when Kathy failed as a parent as she attempts to succeed in keeping her daughter safe. So many scenes in the present time of the movie will echo those moments in new twists, showing how she has changed. One such example would be a parallel between her vomiting in the toilet after she gave in and started drinking again after 2 days of quitting and her vomiting blood as a result from the wounds she has suffered. Obviously the monster in this case could easily be seen as a representation of confronting and overcoming the trauma of a neglected and abusive home on both of their parts.

The actual monster itself is neat looking and the movie relies on practical effects for most things, which gives it a bit more immediacy. Zoe Kazan does a really good job as Kathy in being believable in the role of a mother that wants to do right by her kid but is basically fucked up herself. The mother daughter interactions are done so well and that’s so important in a movie with barely more than just the two of them as characters. The movie also handles the modern day horror dilemma of what to do about cell phones in a great way that isn’t just “they don’t work here for some reason”.

In all, a very good monster movie with a solid emotional core to it. The themes will, of course, hit a bit harder for some people but I think anyone that likes horror could sit down and enjoy this film.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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