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John’s Horror Corner: Monstrous (2022), a “family therapy” horror movie for beginners.

January 25, 2023

MY CALL: Just okay. The monster is “meh”; the story doesn’t build to anything worthy; the film is decently made; and it’s not scary. I didn’t like it. I guess I didn’t hate it. So I’m only recommending this as something that’s a good entry-level horror for scaredy-cats. MORE MOVIES LIKE Monstrous: For more for beginners, consider The Wretched (2019), Séance (2021), Fresh (2022) or the classic Silver Bullet (1985).

Trying to get away from her abusive ex-husband, Laura (Christina Ricci; After.Life, Cursed) moves to a new home in the remote countryside with her son Cody (Santino Barnard). Shortly after moving in, Cody discovers a sort of monster.

The monster is reduced to some very basic, PG antics. The so-so CGI creation fumbles its shoddy CGI limbs at the boy, the boy screams, and the monster disappears by the time Laura comes to the rescue. Yes, of course, no monster, right? The boy was just scared in a new house. Sure, mom!

After repeated contact, Cody forms a connection with this monster. He calls her the pretty lady from the pond, but Laura assumes this to just be an imaginary friend. At first, Laura blames Cody for the actions of the lady in the pond. As we encounter the lady from the pond more and more, Laura comes to believe in her and seems to lose her nerve. Her landlord and employer see her losing her grip, and they don’t like it at all. At this point I’m beginning to wonder… are we in for a Babadook (2014) situation here?

Boy those CGI tentacles were not effective. The scare tactics here are weak. Like, even for a PG-13 horror. They seem to “imply” horror more than actually convey it. Although the “lady” is skeletal, grimy, slimy, and has rooty tentacles. We only have a couple shots that might spook out a preteen.

Set in the 1950s, this soft PG-13 horror is free of the conveniences of cell phones, internet searches or smart devices. So successfully running away from a dangerous person in your life is far simpler. But whereas Ouija: Origin of Evil (2016) and Lights Out (2016) brought us all of the horror with none of the R-rating, Monstrous seems to have forgotten its horror entirely with a more “hard PG” feel of Goosebumps (2015). And while not all PG-13 horror needs to push the gory and jump-scary tactics of The Gate (1987), my personal taste finds disappointment in these movies that I would best classify as horror for beginners.

I don’t think this movie had ever properly captured my attention or interest. Whatever it was trying to do, it never seemed to do enough… or well enough… or take its horror seriously enough. Still, it was capably made, acted and produced. It seems that director Chris Sivertson (All Cheerleaders Die, I Know Who Killed Me) continues to make watchable but forgettable fare. I don’t regret watching it. But I’m also only recommending this as something that’s a good entry-level horror for scaredy-cats.

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