Buddies Devon and Jamal (Justin Bruening and Jamal Quezaire) produce crappy staged horror vids for the internet to enjoy...one takes a camera, the other attacks them in a costume... standard goofy fare, but hey, it gets them a few extra bucks.
Popularity of their videos having risen, Devon believes that they should up their game. He comes up with the idea of interviewing real life 'monsters' (or at least people who believe themselves to be) to get an insight into their lives as creatures that live among us whom we choose to pretend don't exist.
An ad on Craigslist for said monsters to respond to (at least they'd have to be computer literate, not all bad..!) doesn't take long to bring in emails.
They enlist the help of Bryan (Toby Hemingway), Jamal's housemate who is supposedly recovering from his drug addiction, and Devon's ex Murielle (Murielle Zuker) to make the film. She and Devon currently have a very bitter relationship, and fallings-out are had before shooting.
On the night of a lunar eclipse, they all finally retreat to the derelict mansion chosen for filming, set up their equipment, and then they wait for the monsters to arrive: a demon-possessed woman, a vampire and a werewolf, and they're not as friendly as everyone had hoped...
The idea behind Victor Mathieu's THE MONSTER PROJECT is a cool one, full of potential for a mix of fun and scares, but the final product seems so desperate to excite its audience that it's honestly devoid of both, which is a great shame. It may have been fun, had the pacing been handled more wisely and the final hour or so of horror feeling worth anything (almost the entirety of the scenes in the house follow the pattern of 'jump, run, hide, repeat').
It's not scary either...every tactic has been done before, and better. The excessive use of jumpscares really aggravates and quickly reached the point where I was too busy anticipating the next monster onscreen to care to follow the story and its characters (not that I gave a shit about them anyway...one of the mains was an arsehole, the other a stereotypical caricature...). When things really get going, about one jump a minute is thrown at you, and that's not an exaggeration.
A twist arriving in the last five minutes feels tagged on, and by that point it was far too late to try and impress. It makes no sense, is an unwelcome stylistic change, and was completely unnecessary that late into proceedings.
On the technical side of things, however, it's not disastrous. There's some clever use of sound and the darker scenes often come with suitable ambience. The monsters' CGI is pretty good, too, though there was one big problem which destroyed the immersion: it's all done with more than one camera, the POVs changing sometimes rapidly, dizzying you and making you momentarily question whose perspective you're watching from. But, worse than this, we sometimes see from the monsters' POVs...they don't have cameras, so I found this pointlessly silly and it really took away from the found footage aspect.
Also, besides for the in-your-face jumpscares, I can think of no reason why Mathieu's film had to be filmed in found footage style. There is more than one occasion where I thought 'who the hell would record that?' (a guy sleeping, for example), which ruined the experience even more.
THE MONSTER PROJECT came to VOD on August 18th, via Epic Pictures.
I was really excited to check this out, but the idea was only good on paper, and poorly executed as a movie.
Review by Elliott Moran
|Released by Epic Pictures|