A Certain Kind of Monster Movie Review
Written by Michel Sabourin
Written and directed by Mike Moring
2012, 22 minutes, Not Rated
Josh Cutmore as Ben
Jen Yarrow as Beth
With a budget of about $700, Mike Moring has crafted a rich and compelling story that much higher budgeted offerings fail to attain. At times uncomfortable in the way a good horror tale should be, but enticing and even titillating at points. This is not the short you think you're getting. With a name like A Certain Kind of Monster, you're obviously expecting a twist of sorts, but you get a lot more. It's got real emotion and character depth; something amazing in a film that flies by so fast.
The story begins with a young hitchhiker in the rain, rescued from the torrents by a kindly driver. After some small talk, he invites her to spend the night at his house. Now we've all seen enough movies to know that's never a good idea, but this being horror, she obviously accepts (kids: never hitchhike, and if you do, never go to their house).
And that's the point where this could become a big ball of cliché; a well-made ball of cliché, but cliché nonetheless. And in truth, if this went exactly where I assumed it would go, I would still be happy because it is made so well. It's shot perfectly. The performances are appropriately understated and emotionally guarded. These are obviously people running from pain and demons. The score is beautiful and rich and suits the tone note to a tee.
The twist isn't gimmicky, wholly predictable or shoddily handled. Nothing happens how, where or when it should, and when the climax comes, it is glorious and shattering. I love this short wholeheartedly and wish I could show it to everyone I know. Seriously.
Real raw emotion is so hard to capture on film. It so easily becomes hokey and strikes a bad note that rings false. The emotional aftermath that closes out this piece is as real as it gets. The two leads, Josh Cutmore and Jen Yarrow, give exceptional performances that are so subtle and true that it feels absolutely genuine and believable.
The plot is tightly structured and fair. It would be easy for a story like this to be preachy or over-earnest in its edit with excess slow-motion and off-camera dialog and out-of-focus art shots and all the other pretentious nonsense that passes as "art" in amateur filmmaking lately. Instead, Moring keeps it simple and focused and delivers a first rate entry. I urge you to seek this out and share it. The hallmark of any good film is that it lingers with you and makes you excited to spread the virus. In this, A Certain Kind of Monster excels.
A Certain Kind of Monster will be shown at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival on November 30th, 2013. Click here for tickets.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screener.