A good ghost story can be hard to not only hard to find, but classify as well. After all, ghost stories don’t necessarily have to be horror stories. Monstrous is one of those films that wants to be a horror story at times, but really isn’t all that scary. It’s more of a mystery than anything else. In some cases that can be alright. But in the case of Monstrous it feels like it loses its way instead of forging its own path.
Monstrous tells the story of Laura (Christina Ricci, The Matrix Resurrections) and her son Cody (Santino Barnard, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels). They’ve fled their home in Arizona in the mid-1950s’ to start their lives anew in California. Right from the start however something seems to be off. Cody is plagued by visions of a monster coming from the nearby pond to get him. The lights in the house flicker on and off for no reason. Meanwhile, the tv and radio constantly play the same commercial over and over. And to top it off, the people of the town all seem to look at them oddly and treat them differently. Laura desperately tries to make things work. But it quickly becomes apparent that she is not in control. And that things might just be worse than they were back in Arizona.
Monstrous is entertaining for the most part, but fans of ghost stories will more than likely be able to solve the mystery long before the movie ends. Watching Christina Ricci delve into her character’s madness is really the most entertaining part of the film. Not every actress would have been able to pull off the nuances of the character either. Ricci had the right balance of perkiness, kookiness and outright craziness to pull it off. The film really needed to decide what type of atmosphere it wanted to project though. Because at times it felt like it wanted to be something scarier than it was. It would have been better off just sticking to the mystery of the story, and leaving the scary stuff for true horror films.
In the end Monstrous just has enough enjoyment in it to keep you entertained, and because it keeps its length under an hour and a half, you don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time watching it. While it’s disappointing that the story could have been a little tighter, it still makes for a fun movie.