29th Sep2020

‘Monstrous’ Review

by Alain Elliott

Stars: Anna Shields, Rachel Finninger, Grant Schumacher, Hannah McKechnie, Catharine Daddario, Dylan Grunn, Peter Stray, Thomas Brazzle, Kyrie Ellison, Rick Montgomery Jr. | Written by Anna Shields | Directed by Bruce Wemple

It’s maybe a little surprising that there isn’t actually that many horror movies centered around the legend of Bigfoot. The most well known is perhaps the 1972 cult fake documentary horror The Legend of Boggy Creek, which is much more entertaining than you might expect. The Blair Witch Project director Eduardo Sanchez created my favourite Bigfoot film with the found-footage-style movie Exists in 2014. So I am always happy to see a new movie based on the legendary ‘creature’.

In Monstrous we see a young woman, Sylvia (Anna Shields – who also wrote the movie) searching for her friend who has gone missing in an area that is known for its Bigfoot sightings. Her search though leads her to find things other than the monster. Monstrous definitely takes the ‘monster’ movie in a very different direction. A direction I don’t want to speak about too much because it will spoil the movie and it is definitely best not to know anyway.

The first forty five minutes barely feature Bigfoot at all. This is not unusual for this type of movie, many filmmakers don’t want to show off the big monster immediately, or they simply don’t have the budget to show it off much but it often works well anyway. With Monstrous we get to know the main characters in what almost feels like a road trip. Shields is good as Anna, a seemingly very normal, relatable character who ends up in some difficult situations. Rachel Finninger plays Alex, the woman Sylvia meets to help her find her friend. She is less experienced as an actress and at times it does show but it’s still a good performance in some challenging scenes. The other main role is Grant Schumacher as Jamie. A friend of Sylvia who because of illness initially misses the trip but soon catches up to meet her. Despite being another inexperienced actor he shows plenty of confidence and charisma.

After about the halfway point, there’s a reveal that turns the movie on its head a little and the next few scenes suddenly become very tense. The tension stays but in several different ways for much of the movie and it even has one moment that made me properly jump out of my seat. I don’t jump much at horror movies anymore, so I was glad to watch one that did. It was a nice mixture of tension, a sudden loud noise, a surprise moment, and the fact that I was wearing headphones.

These last forty five minutes almost feel like a different movie and you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Bigfoot. In truth, it doesn’t feature as much as you might expect. I wasn’t disappointed by this but could understand why some might be. When it does appear, especially in the final scenes, it does at least makes its mark.

There are some really good make-up effects for what ends up being a lot of injuries and wounds, created after some decent-looking close-up fight scenes. There’s a really interesting use of music. It’s a mix of electro pop, tension-building musical score and an almost cheesy stereotypical monster movie music. As it is such a mix, it’s not surprising that results are mixed too with some working really well and others not at all.

Not everything works in Monstrous but it has to be commended for trying something different. Those wanting a full-on monster movie will be disappointed but those looking for a more character-driven but still gory monster movie will enjoy. I’m interested in seeing what writer Anna Shields can bring to other horror sub genres (next up are zombies) because this is one of the most interesting Bigfoot films I have seen.

**** 4/5

Monstrous is out now in the US courtesy of Uncork’d Entertainment. The film is also screening as part of this years Grimmfest.


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