The Bigfoot subgenre of Horror films has a rough history. Often hampered by shoestring budgets, lame monster suits, and, more recently, unpopular found-footage formats, none have managed to rise above the niche to find a strong spot in the Horror pantheon. Set for release on Tuesday, August 11th On Demand and DVD through Uncork’d Entertainment, Monstrous is the newest film added to the mix.
Directed by Bruce Wemple (Altered Hours 2016, Lake Artifact 2019), it tells the story of a young woman in search of a friend who went missing under mysterious circumstances in the Adirondacks. So, does this latest offering breathe some new life into Bigfoot films?
The answer is, unfortunately, no. You should know going in that this is a Bigfoot movie by only the slimmest of margins, as the beast is limited to brief shots in the opening and a bit more in the climax. The bulk of the plot revolves around protagonist Sylvia (Anne Shields: The Executioners 2018, Lake Artifact 2019), and her meeting and subsequent travels with Alex (Rachel Finniger: Gracie’s Keeper 2018, Law & Order series), a young loner who needs a travel partner to share expenses.
In the film’s opening sequence, a pair of young women are set upon by a gigantic Sasquatch and one of them does not make it out, and is not seen or heard from again. You soon learn that the area of Whitehall, New York and its surrounding regions are home to many Bigfoot sightings and disappearances of young women. Sylvia’s friend Jamie (Grant Schumacher: Lake Artifact 2019, Such is Life 2020) was the one who answered the craigslist ad from Alex, and recruited Sylvia for help. However, when Jamie falls sick, Sylvia braves the encounter herself and is pleasantly surprised to learn Alex is a woman. However, she soon learns that Alex has a lot to hide and her decision to go alone may have been a fatal mistake.
Written by Shields herself, at times, the script is too bloated and unfocused to float. Furthermore, you will likely forget you are watching what is supposed to be a Bigfoot movie during the film’s long, plodding middle section. There is also a good deal of sexual and psychological manipulation on the part of Alex, but it is difficult to suspend the disbelief of Sylvia’s vulnerability in light of the numerous red flags Alex throws up or Sylvia discovers herself.
The aforementioned scarce Bigfoot shots are effective at first. Its size is titanic, at least ten feet tall, and the lighting keeps the few appearances to little more than hairy silhouettes. But the enormous gulf between the setup and climax in the last few minutes of the film severely lessen the impact of the danger. Later on, you get a better view of the monster, but the rubber suit does not do it any favors up close. Moreover, you don’t really understand what the purpose of the Bigfoot is. In the past they have been portrayed as killers, benevolent guardians, and even extra terrestrial, but here we are left wondering its place in the world as well as the script.
Overall, there are some pretty solid practical effects in the later part of the movie, and the climactic ending leads to one of the cooler death scenes in recent memory, so props to Wemple and crew for shooting it. That is about where the positives end though. The script’s inability to make a hybrid of a Bigfoot movie and character thriller work results in a film that satisfies neither aspect, and you will likely be a bit miffed at not getting what they signed up for. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Monstrous 2 out of 5 stars.