Who you gonna call? Monsters! We know that tune so well, that we can actually feel and hear that busters part in our minds. A Monster Calls is a movie that’s not so cheerful and up-beat as the eighties classic. Dealing with subjects that are difficult to comprehend and process, especially when you’re young, it’s a perfectly executed adaptation destined to become one of those generational classics. I usually don’t like these movies where someone is slowly dying throughout the movie and you know there’s will be no happy end because they are trying to keep the thing as real as possible. Sometimes we need to be rocked and touched with themes like this. They ground us to the present and provide perspective obscured by strong emotions (and emotional impacts).
Although there was some emotional milking (a process where the narrative triggers emotional venting without story or character advancement), the script was very engaging and well written, prioritizing the youngin’ perspective and reminding us of how little we have traveled from our childhood. This means that you can expect a pretty grim and dark atmosphere from A Monster Calls. It’s not a movie for young children and PG-13 seems about right. The whole thing reminded me of another fantasy movie with similar themes, Pan’s Labyrinth. And while we’re dropping names, Steven Spielberg’s The BFG tried to pull this off but ultimately failed.
Conor has had it rough for the past few months. His mother is terminally ill with cancer and the bullys at school keep bothering him. However, one night something happens, something that should not happen. A giant tree apparently comes to life and starts walking towards him. Instead of death and destruction, the tree offers Conor to tell him three stories in exchange for just one of his stories…
Fear and how we deal with it are one of the fundamental things that we have to learn early on in our life. If we are to solve this puzzle we must think creatively, blend reality and imagination. Analyze past, present and future and do all that within the confines of our mind. And without going crazy). Extremely useful concept, a left over from our struggle with natural elements and a constant reminder of where we come from, fear has been put to a series of tests in this movie. From purely rhetorical to vividly visual, the tests were performed with diligence and care. This is also an emotional journey we’re embarking on and you better get ready for it.
When you see the visuals as good as these ones, you can bet your ass that the rest of the artistic stuff will be perfect. The animation in those three stories is beautiful and I would mind even more segments like this. Mostly because they’re breaking that gloomy atmosphere so well. Acting was also top notch, with young Lewis MacDougall (Father Dougal’s illegitimate son) intense performance. And don’t get me going with my girl Sigourney, you know she was great. Liam has already been Aslan, so being a big, menacing, but wise tree was a piece of cake. Directed by J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage, The Impossible), A Monster Calls is a riveting drama that will school a lot of new generations.
I would also be remis if I didn’t recommend you another sobering and authentic movie, A Boy In The Stripped Pajamas.
Director: J.A. Bayona
Writers: Patrick Ness, Siobhan Dowd
Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Liam Neeson, Geraldine Chaplin
Fun Facts: Siobhan Dowd first started writing the novel. Though it was unfinished because of her untimely death, Patrick Ness finished the book with credits to her idea.
IMDb Link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3416532/