Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Cast: Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones
A Monster Calls isn’t exactly a horror film, even if it employs some tactics generally associated with the genre… and even if there is a giant tree monster in the film that plays a crucial role to the narrative as a whole. But I’ve opted to cover it on the site as I’ve now read many a genre fan’s opinion that the connections to the genre should be celebrated as opposed to brushed aside. I tend to agree with that last bit.
The story focuses on a young boy who struggles both at home and at school as a result of the challenges presented by helping his terminally ill mother and dealing with the devastating life change that fast approaches. This boy, whose imagination is as amazing as his knack for artistic expression, is visited by the mammoth tree monster, who informs the boy that he’ll tell him three tales, and upon completing these tales, the boy will return the favor by telling a tale of his own, but it must be an entirely honest tale if the story exchange is to have its desired effect – that effect remains a mystery to the boy up until all the story telling has been handled.
The tough part about speaking on a film like this is the demand for vagueness. The moment I start opening up about story and monster details is the moment I start to spoil the story, and the point of the monster’s existence. For a film as stunning as this, spoilers would be nothing short of criminal, and I’d only leave readers furious that I damaged an amazing, heart wrenching story with an absolutely brilliant finale.
So… no spoilers!
I can tell you to anticipate an astoundingly emotional story. This piece forces viewers to think, reflect and accept in a manner that calls all emotions to the surface, where they heat to boiling over, leaving viewers entangled in a mess of anger and sadness.
But any film that can impart those kinds of emotions on a very wide audience is a special affair. The simple truth is, A Monster Calls is one of the greatest films produced inside the last few decades, and anyone bold enough to rank the film as an all-time great isn’t stepping out on a limb so much as doing the film a valid justice, because this really is a special film. Time will tell, but it may end up being one of those jaw dropping once in a lifetime pictures that proves so engrossing it’s harder to avoid calling it an all-time great than doing just that.
Expect to be treated to some of the finest visual effects on the market, but more importantly, expect to have the human condition placed under the proverbial microscope where you may see things you never even dreamed of.
The performances are stellar, the editing is pitch-perfect, the pace of the film could not possibly be better measured and the final impact of all plot points intersecting in the flick’s waning moments is an exercise in true perfection… as sorrowful as it all may be.
A Monster Calls may not be an outright horror film, but horror fans, and fans of just about any film genre out there are going to fall in love with this movie after just a single viewing. It’s special in a way that is hard to put into words.