Blu-ray Review: THE MONSTER


THE MONSTER was written and directed by Bryan Bertino and stars Zoe Kazan, Scott Speedman, Aaron Douglas, and Ella Ballentine.

Acclaimed horror filmmaker Bryan Bertino (The Strangers) wrote and directed this suspenseful and scary film, in which a divorced mother (Zoe Kazan) and her headstrong daughter must make an emergency late-night road trip to see the girl’s father. As they drive through deserted country roads on a stormy night, they suddenly have a startling collision that leaves them shaken but not seriously hurt. Their car, however, is dead, and as they try in vain to get help, they come to realize they are not alone on these desolate backroads — a terrifying evil is lurking in the surrounding woods, intent on never letting them leave.

The movie takes place on a dark and rainy night. Kathy (Zoe Kazan) and Lizzy (Ella Ballentine) hit the road so she can go see her father and they end up hitting a wolf that leaves their car broke down. The two are standed out in the middle of nowhere and they end up discovering that they’re not alone. They’re able to call for help but nothing really helps these two on this dreaded night that turns deadly.  Anyway, Kathy and Lizzy end up being stalked and hunted down by a mysterious creature with a thirst for blood. The mother and daughter duo end up in a terrifying fight for their lives with this unnatural predator that has its eyes set on them.

Okay, I’m a big fan of Bryan Bertino’s first film, 2008’s The Strangers, which has now become a horror classic in its own right. This time around he tackles the creature feature subgenre and does a really good job with it. The movie is a mixture of creature feature and dark drama that centers around Kathy, a chainsmoking alcoholic, and her young daughter Lizzy who has been forced to take care of herself and her loser mom. As the movie plays out, there’s several flashback scenes that help reveal just how fractured this mother-daughter relationship is, and it’s not good. Once this killer predator is introduced and the two are left fighting for their lives, things slowly start to change and Kathy’s maternal instincts start to kick in and she’ll do anything to protect Lizzy from this predator. Sure, it’s a horror movie, but it’s also a movie about love, redemption, forgiveness, and even sacrifice.

The packaging comes with a slipcover. The front features the creepy cool artwork you see up top and the back includes movie details, some images and special feature listing. Sadly, the disc is plain and doesn’t feature any kind of artwork. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, The Monster ended up being a really good horror movie that’s a mixture of a tragic character study and intense creature feature. Zoe Kazan and Ella Ballentine play these two female leads and both of them do an outstanding job with their characters. Both actresses delivered some powerful and emotional performances and I was really impressed with young Ella Ballentine’s range. To compliment the impressive acting are the cinematography and old school special effects. The creature is all practical effects (man in a rubber suit) and it is extremely well done plus it features a killer design. There’s also lots of blood and gore to go along with this awesome looking predator. Kudos to the special effects team! Bryan Bertino is a really good storyteller and delivers a pins and needles watch with The Monster. He captured the powerful and emotional performances from this great cast along with the dread and death that this mysterious creature brings with it. The Monster is one of those movies that gets better each you watch it. This Blu-ray+Digital HD Combo Pack releases on January 24th and is worth checking out.

Distributor: Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Run Time: 91 Minutes

Rated: R

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition 16×9 Widescreen (2.40:1)

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish

Special Features: There’s not much as far as the extras go, but the Blu-ray does include a featurette that takes the viewer behind-the-scenes of the movie.

  • “Eyes in the Darkness” featurette (07:32)
  • Digital HD Copy
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