There is nothing a mother would not do for her child, as we see for the girl protagonist of this strange 2022 movie, Monstrous.
Indeed it all begins with young and lonely Laura settling into a large and elegant new home, arriving in California, and fleeing her husband after an accident.
The man had to watch the house while she was out shopping, yet because he was drinking, he did not notice that Cody, their son, fell into the pool, seriously risking drowning.
Unfortunately, their landlords are not lovely, mistreating her for being a divorced woman in her 50s and refusing to do routine maintenance and repairs for their property.
Now she and the baby have a new chance to start fresh, in peace, living in this great away from everyone and near a beautiful lake.
But in every horror movie, this peace always lasts very little, so from the first night, a strange creature emerges from the water, trying to attack Cody.
The woman is increasingly tired and lonely, exhausted by her job as a typist in a studio and with her son, further exasperating her by not being able to fit in at school or simply even having new friends.
As if these difficulties were not enough, she telephones her mother and discovers her husband got her to tell him where she now lives, so now she fears that their escape was for nothing.
Very soon, all this becomes secondary to the unknown monstrous presence that visits them every night, whose worst aspect is to be so familiar and hide a terrible secret that Laura absolutely does not want to uncover.
Too much criticism for no real reason?
Despite the seemingly intricate goings-on in Monstrous, this 2022 movie stands out for holding our attention, dragging us on a dark path of mysteries and surprises.
Unfortunately, such refinement has not been adequately recognized by the crowd of horror lovers, often looking for easy and immediate thrills with simple knockout shots, who have flooded the most well-known opinion sites with harsh criticism.
Director Chris Sivertson exercises solid control by opting for a deliberately slow cadence of the plot, where there is a continuous evolution by constantly injecting new elements of mystery and conflict.
Carol Chrest‘s skillful script comes to the big screen with surprising effectiveness, becoming a visual depiction of an emotional perception of metamorphosis and fear.
Indeed, every element of the story is subject to transformation: characters, the house, and the horrifying creature, morphing from the classic monster emerging from the lagoon in a familiar and reassuring image.
The 1950s setting is brilliantly effective, thanks to accurate details such as period furnishings, costumes characteristic of the period, and the charming pastel blue vintage car in which we arrive with the protagonists inside the new house.
All these elements are not just background decorations but become critical components of the plot, adding a veil of nostalgia to the tale.
However, some horror scenes could probably have had more effective tension. Indeed, some scary moments have considerable impact, while others seem overly drawn out. Still, despite these slight flaws, the macabre atmosphere and pervasive creepiness remain intact.
Not to mention the magnificent final act, in which our point of view changes dramatically in a matter of seconds, leaving us in doubt and amazement at everything we have seen up to that point.
The dream of an America that never existed
Having reached this point in each of my recommendations, I usually write a few words about the cast members who convinced me the most.
I want to make it clear: Monstrous is a 2022 movie resting its foundation on the shoulders of Christina Ricci, once a child prodigy and now a grown woman and accomplished star in the cinematic mainstream universe.
Rarely have I witnessed acting so overlooked and underrated by audiences as in this case, probably due to the expectations of many moviegoers attracted by the anticipation of the usual slew of jumpscares with eerie music and monsters suddenly leaping out of nowhere?
Instead, the dramatic emotion’s essence is mainly conveyed through the expressiveness of this incredible actress as a distressed and isolated mother, whose anxiety becomes even more palpable when she tries to force a smile for the sake of her son, Santino Barnard, who portrays the role with an appropriate amount of apathy and disinterest.
Every single look and gesture of sad Laura always has meaning, whether intentional or not. For example, when her character touches her side with a sense of pain, it is never a random occurrence but reveals an underlying meaning that will come to light later.
Effectively, Monstrous is one of those movies for which a second viewing is essential. Only in this way, indeed, can you grasp the many details cleverly sprinkled throughout the plot.
Of course, the most careful and experienced viewers may anticipate the surprising twist, which I will not reveal. However, the authentic appeal lies in seeing how the director leads us down the road to the inevitable ending.