"Monstrous" wastes a game Christina Ricci

Monstrous (2022)

In “Monstrous,” Christina Ricci plays a chirpy ‘50s-era mother being terrorized by a lake monster that looks like Gabriel from Malignant. That logline would imply a good old-fashioned creature feature. Or, it could be a darkly atmospheric, nostalgia-infused fable. Heck, it could even be a classy, powerful psychological manifestation of repressed trauma. In a perfect world (or in more competent hands), it could be all of the above. Well, Monstrous is never as fun or as interesting as any of those directions would promise.

This is as much of a natural progression for director Chris Sivertson as one could predict, at least in terms of his two most notable features. There’s no forgetting the 2007 Lindsey Lohan-starrer, “I Know Who Killed Me” (which is either a total disaster or a misunderstood Giallo that took chances with a lot of mood, dream logic, and capital-S Symbolism) and then the likably bloody horror-comedy “All Cheerleaders Die,” Sivertson’s co-directing effort with Lucky McKee. Piece together some of the wacky chance-talking of the former and the mere existence of a supernatural element of the latter, and you get “Monstrous.” 

Ricci plays Laura Butler, a California mother with a cheery, can-do attitude (and a fake-it-till-you-make-it veneer) and a reason to flee her old life. Getting in their shiny, sky blue Chevy, she and her 7-year-old son Cody (Santino Bernard) start anew in a house they rent from an older couple of landlords (Don Durrell and an amusingly irascible Colleen Camp). Just as they settle in—Cody starts school and Laura already has a typist job lined up—there seems to be some sort of monster living in the lake by their new home. Is the monster Cody calls "the pretty lady" just a figment of his imagination, or is Laura starting to crack from the trauma of her ex-husband? Whatever's going on here, it must be monstrous. Read the rest of the review at Horror Obsessive.

Grade: D +

Screen Media is releasing “Monstrous” (89 min.) in theaters and on demand on May 13, 2022.