Book of Monsters
book of monsters | stewart sparke | paul butler | lyndsey craine | michaela longden | lizzie stanton | comedy | united kingdom | anna dawson | rose muirhead | steph mossman | monster | monsters | creature | creatures | ritual | nightmare film festival | nff | daniel thrace
Film: Book of Monsters
Director: Stewart Sparke
Writer: Paul Butler
Starring: Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden and Lizzie Stanton
I got the pleasure of seeing this film at the Nightmares Film Festival. This was actually the North American Premiere of it as well. The official synopsis for this film is six kickass women must fight off a horde of terrifying monsters at an 18th birthday party.
We kick off this film with a young girl finding a book in a trunk. Her mother comes in and tells her that she shouldn’t be reading it by herself. They are then attack by a monster and the young girl watches as her mother is killed.
It then jumps to the present. The young girl has grown up and her name is Sophie (Lyndsey Craine). Her 18th birthday is the following day. We see her interact with her father, Jonas (Nicholas Vince). He is a little bit overprotective. It explains why as this film progresses. Her father is going out of town so her friends are coming over to throw her a birthday part. She has a wild friend Mona (Michaela Longden), who her father isn’t overly fond of, and her smarter friend Beth (Lizzie Stanton).
At school we also meet our core cast. There is a rude girl Arya (Anna Dawson) and her jerk boyfriend Brice (Julian Alexander). We see Brice bully Gary (Daniel Thrace) during a test. Sophie has a crush on Jess (Rose Muirhad). Jess is friends with Arya who bullies Sophie for her sexuality.
Mona invites a whole bunch of people, but no one shows up at first. The party does pick up when Arya brings her crew along with a bunch of other people. Things take a turn when a mysterious woman shows up and performs a spell. It brings monsters to the party and starts to kill off the guests.
I’m normally not the biggest fan of horror comedies, but I have to say I had a lot of fun with this one. There are some pretty cool callbacks in this film and you normally don’t get such a deep story. This book is something that I would have loved to have growing up, but not in the fact that it can summon monsters like it does. I’ve always had such a thirst for knowledge so I read horror books at a younger age. It would have been nice to have a book like this since my way of learning was watching horror films.
It did bother me since the book was so big, but there are only 5 monsters that are used. It actually makes sense to a reveal we get in the film and from that point on I was fine. Some monsters get much more screen time than others and I’m assuming that was more a logistics thing and some monsters just having more that they can do.
The story overall was pretty solid as well. I like that the mother was hiding something from her daughter, but that she had planned on telling her. During these reveals, it really explains things previously which I liked. This does something as well with the comedy aspect that only the great horror comedies can do. It starts off as a comedy and that slowly dies away as it becomes more serious. Not to say that there aren’t some jokes or laughs, but the tonal change actually helps the film.
With the tone, the film is paced very well. It isn’t too long and it is constantly building tension. I like that we get that cold open and then shifting to introducing our characters as well as the story. The more we get, the more it drew me in to figure out what was going to happen next. The ending is pretty satisfying. There was also a solid conversation about not knowing what to do after high school. I think this is something we all face throughout our lives so it is nice to see on screen.
Acting for the film I thought was really good as well. Craine was solid as the lead. What I like about her character is that she is shy and timid. As she discovers herself, she becomes stronger as she builds to the heroine that is needed. Longden is solid as the screw up friend. She is into boys and isn’t a good student. Despite this though, she cares a lot about Sophie and is just trying to help her. Stanton is also good as the smarter friend as well. Dawson is a jerk and I thought it was good for the film. It needed someone like that. Muirhead I thought was a little underdeveloped but it was an interesting twist on a normal concept we see. I thought the rest of the cast round out the film well. Also shout-out to Thrace, he is pretty funny in the film as well.
I have been excited to touch on the effects, because for the most part they were practical. This is a creature feature film and I loved that aspect of it. Not all of the monsters look great, but they look real enough. I was especially a fan of the one that is outside wearing the plague doctor mask. They took a lot of care to do this without much CGI. We do get a bit of that, but it is really to just enhance something they were going for.
Now with that said, I really had a lot of fun with this film. I thought they did a good job at blending the horror of a creature feature with the comedy, but it doesn’t go too heavy handed on it. It is paced well to build the story and reveal the mystery, but it is also balanced in shifting tones as things get out of hand. The acting for the film is good as well as the effects. The score of the film really didn’t stand out to me, but it also didn’t hurt it. It never took me out of any scenes. This is definitely a good film I would recommend checking out.
My Rating: 8 out of 10