Review: Even With Christina Ricci's Compelling Performance, 'Monstrous' Falls Flat

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday May 13, 2022


With a cool production design and a welcome starring role by Christina Ricci, it's disappointing that the new horror thriller "Monstrous" isn't more than the sum of its parts.

Ricci stars as Laura, a woman so desperate to escape her abusive husband that she rents an out-of-the-way farmhouse for her and her 7-year-old son Cody (Santino Barnard) in a small town miles away from where they had been living. It is the late 50's/early '60s and Laura is off working as a typing gal and some sort of nondescript office where all of the women are lined up in rows putting together reports for their boss.

Meanwhile, Cody is not only having trouble making friends at his new school, but he is convinced there is a lady that watches him from the lake he can see from his bedroom window. That "lady" ends up becoming more and more.... monstrous.... and it's up to Cody to convince mom she's real before all hell breaks loose.

Written by Carol Chrest and directed by Chris Sivertson ("I Know Who Killed Me"), "Monstrous" isn't sure what it wants to be except a movie with a twist, and that twist is fairly obvious very early on. It's understandable why Ricci (currently so fabulous in Showtime's "Yellowjackets") would want to take on the role as it gets a bit more complex as the film goes on.

The problem might be more in the advertising. This film is marketed as a creature feature, and aside from some nifty practical effects, this is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. All of this is fine, but it never lands as emotionally or as thrillingly as one would hope.

With 28 executive producers and 9 producers, perhaps there were too many cooks in the kitchen on this one. To be fair, the production design by Mars Feehery and set decoration by Taylor Jean have to be commended. It's bright, colorful, but also filled with perfect details of the era. At the same time, something is off, which keeps the audience on edge.

While Ricci delivers a compelling performance and some viewers might not see the twist coming, this isn't going to be the monster mayhem scare-fest it's being marketed as. This is an indie psychodrama disguised as a creature feature, and neither fully commands the screen.

"Monstrous" opens in theaters and OnDemand May 9th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.