I have seen Dark Star, The Hellcats and The Incredibly Strange Creatures That Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies, so I am familiar with movies that…well, lack box-office appeal. Monster doesn’t reach their depth of morphean stultification but neither is it rivetting viewing.

The plot of the film is that several years ago Tokyo was nearly destroyed, ostensibly by a powerful earthquake. But now, videos have been discovered that reveal the true cause of the destruction. These videos were filmed by sisters Sarah and Erin Lynch, who had travelled to Japan to film a documentary about global warming. While they are there, Tokyo is attacked by what appears – occasionally – to be a subterranean octopus of Brobdingnagian size. It is a mizuchi, which apparently means “dead water”; to be more specific, if not more enlightening, mizuchi gets cranky “when the water is dead” – “What does that mean?!” “It means what it means.” There’s an implied link to human destruction of the environment, so the mizuchi can’t be blamed entirely. Besides, if you’re a giant octopus sleeping under Honshu and you’ve just woken up from a long sleep, naturally you’ll have a good stretch. If anyone has foolishly built their homes over yours, well, that’s their problem.

The film wasn’t original but this isn’t a huge problem: it’s said that there really are only nine (or seven?) kinds of plot. What makes a story interesting is how it is told: what is the twist or the different perspective? However, the lack of originality is one that other reviews of the film note: Monster is Cloverfield on a budget. And with the films being released so closely together…well, to me it just isn’t cricket. The same with Transmorphers and Transformers: it’s difficult to avoid the impression that one is deliberately riding in the slipstream of the other. Blame The Asylum, the company responsible for Monster. Many of The Asylum’s films are of this ilk: consider Abraham Lincoln Vs Zombies, Almighty Thor, I am Omega and Sunday School Musical.

The storyline of Monster could be described as recapitulation: there was no progression as such. The characters interact, move to a new location; interact again; move to a new location…and so on. Once or twice, by way of variation, they pause to interact on the way to a new location.

And as for action, there wasn’t much. Nothing really happened. You do see a car doing multiple cartwheels: that effect was done well. The most you see of the monster was a tentacle or two. Once or twice the girls and a waving tentacle appear in the same scene. If the animal was meant to be an octopus, the tentacle should be called an arm, I think: octopodes have eight arms as squids do, but only squids have tentacles (two of them). Even then, to be faithful to the name octopus, we should say they have feet, not arms.

There were some other, minor, issues. There was a cheerfully overt product placement: the girls stated they used a Panasonic video camera. But considering the film was sometimes pixellated and the sound scratchy or absent – deliberately, to add verisimilitude to the documentary conceit – perhaps it another AV company was attempting to undermine Panasonic. Still, who knows how another company’s product might have fared in the circumstances?

Another issue was continuity: the characters acquired scrapes and injuries that disappeared soon after.

A third was that Sarah Lieving, one of the lead actors, is named in the credits as “Sarah Lynch”, which is her character’s name. I’m going to say “Oops” for the editor. (No doubt Sarah, if I may be so familiar, would disagree with  the statement that this was a minor issue.) Still, this was not nearly as bad as the scene in Space Mutiny where a character is sitting at her workstation, despite having been killed in the previous scene.

All things considered, Monster wasn’t a bad effort. Not as good as Gettysburg or Hotel Rwanda but, for me, better than Son of Godzilla or Curse of the Swamp Creature.

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