A horror movie about the legendary bigfoot should be a no brainer. When all things are considered, the tale of bigfoot has been a piece of American folklore for years and years. Books have been written about it, people talk about it on numerous of podcasts, several movies have been about bigfoot, and heck, even video games have offered glimpses of the impression that bigfoot has left on pop culture. Whether you believe in bigfoot or not, one can’t deny the impact it’s had on generations of people, and will continue to do so in the years to come. Monstrous is the latest attempt of revitalizing the tale of bigfoot in old school horror fashion, however it fails to deliver on true horror, effective atmosphere, engaging characters, and the impact of its own narrative.
Set in the town of Whitehall, New York, a young woman, Sylvia, is out on a quest to track and find and old friend of her’s after she shockingly went missing near an Adirondack town that’s famously known for its bigfoot sightings. When Sylvia seeks solitude in a cabin on her journey, she then realizes that hiding out in the woods, away from civilization, is more sadistic and more evil than she originally had thought.
The first job of any horror movie is to be scary. It’s really rather simple. Some try too hard on delivering true intensity and horror and don’t know really understand what makes a horror movie scary. Horror movies like Annabelle, Paranormal Activity 5, and Oujia are examples of thoughtless horror movies with an unnecessary amount of cheap thrills and jump scares. However, a horror movie can be along the lines of The Conjuring, IT, or Insidious, where the scares are real and present, but the story and characters are likable and motivational. Monstrous wishes it was any of those last three horror movies because the biggest and most disappointing aspect of Monstrous is that it’s simply not scary, not even remotely. Its horror comes across as abundantly amateurish because the scares and the horror didn’t feel earned or were not as impactful as the filmmakers had intended, even once the movie is over. And for a movie that’s marketing heavily on the usage of bigfoot, he’s barely mentioned at all. But what’s worst of all is the vibe and the mystique of bigfoot doesn’t have any strong presence. It may as well be a movie about a girl who goes looking for a missing friend and bigfoot just so happens to have a cameo.
Director Bruce Wemple missed the mark on trying to bring new life in telling a horror story with the bigfoot as the monster. Wemple’s biggest problem, as a horror director, is that he failed on slowly and deliberately executing the tension and the stress that audiences should be feeling when chaos is happening. Horror is important to a horror movie just as comedy is for a comedy movie. Horror movies like Insidious and The Conjuring are examples were the horror is wonderfully paced out, thoughtful, but, more importantly, it didn’t feel underdeveloped. So, in essence, Monstrous’s level of terror was executed very cheaply and almost seemed as an after-thought. The horror didn’t feel as focused enough for moments to be frightening or to be genuinely effective, thereby leaving you left with this sense of feeling anticlimactic. Mainly the scenes that involved Bigfoot attacking our main characters weren’t as thought out as one might have hoped for, but they also were a bit hard to distinguish to what was actually happening. Even for the brief time it’s on screen, you’d assume that Bigfoot would devour and kill people, but even the violence had very little impact.
The one thing that Monstrous also suffers from is the characters themselves. Sylvia (which is a great name by the way) is a weak, shallow, and almost insufferable lead in this movie. She lacks any type of confidence or sympathy due to how emotionless her character comes across as. What makes her character even more unbearable is the relationship she shares with the character, Alex. Alex is a girl that helps Sylvia track down her missing friend, and while there’s a lot of time spent on them forming a romantic connection, the performances from both these two actresses were so wooden, passionless, and irritating that any events that happened as the movie moved along felt severely uneventful.
Monstrous is also a slog fest to sit through. The first 20 minutes or so don’t really meander as much as is it does in other parts of the movie, but once that middle part kicks in, the movie halts and it’s embarrassingly noticeable. For a movie that’s around 90 minutes, Monstrous has the feeling and pace of a Lord of the Rings movie, but not in a good way.
Overall, Monstrous is a substandard and poor quality horror flick that doesn’t feature any true terror or constructive atmosphere. The performances from the two main characters are intolerable, plus the relationship and development around them is hardly explored. But, as stated earlier, Monstrous is not a scary movie, and a for a movie that’s trying to recapture a new and inventive take on the history of bigfoot, Monstrous didn’t do any of it justice.
Available on VOD and digital August 11th, 2020.
Final Score: 1 out of 5.