I’m a firm member of team, “horror movies are better when you care about the characters.” Bob Clark’s Black Christmas is a film that probably still would work if Jess were a wretched brat. However, I definitely would not have watched the last fifteen minutes of that version of Clark’s classic through the spaces in-between my fingers, now would I? Toronto After Dark short alumnus Justin Harding’s feature debut (with co-director Rob Brunner) Making Monsters so ardently takes the opposite track to the approach I outlined above, that it borders on impressive.
Harding and Brunner choose to centre Making Monsters around Chris Brand (Tim Loden), a YouTube shock artist whose content largely consists of elaborate pranks that he pulls upon his fiancé Allison (Alana Elmer), while she’s in the midst of doing mundane things like trying on her wedding dress. After a fertility doctor informs Allison that she needs eliminate stress from her life if the two are to conceive, she begs him to cut out the pranks; a request he predictably scoffs at. Yet, when the two of them head to their friends newly acquired church (?) for a weekend getaway, the shoes may end up being on the other feet.
It’s impossible to root for Chris and Allison as the fuse starts to burn. Him because he’s a jerk whose livelihood literally depends upon him scaring the living daylights out of his fiancé twice a week, and her because the acting direction seems to be “Shelley Duvall in The Shining but louder and more shrill.” It’s impossible to believe that they’re a couple, and thus, when Harding and Brunner doll out the violence it feels pointlessly sadistic. There are probably some well-crafted scares here but they’re also empty, and the result is a slog.
- Release Date: 10/20/2019