A Monster Calls
Based on the novel of the same name, A Monster Calls is about a boy who gets visits from a monster at 12:07 am and pm. This tree like monster tells him three stories and demands that the fourth story be told by the boy and be the true confrontation of his nightmare. Conor (the lead character) also has a dying mother and must not only deal with that and the monster but also deals with bullying and how to come face to face with his grief. The plot sounds very confusing I’m sure but its not once you get into the grove of the film.
First impressions is that this is not a film for kids, its too dark for children. The subject matter is serious and dark, and it could be scary for a young audience. There’s also a depiction of bullying on multiple counts, which could be too real for the young folks. Getting past that, I think the film is a bit of a mixed bag. Without getting into spoilers, the fourth story and reveal of Conor’s nightmare is done very well. The thing is you kind of have to sit and wait for it and the film spends periods just limping to the end.
The delivery of the film is intriguing. I wasn’t blown away by the CG monster but there is an air of familiarity hearing the voice of Liam Neeson beaming from the giant. The stories are entertaining and told from a graphic heavy perspective (which is fine), its the in-between the story moments that are really hit or miss. There are areas where the film is at a standstill which makes me wonder if the film would have worked better as an hour long special. Its a bit of an ambitious effort from a filmmaker who usually has an interesting story to tell but it comes down to the source and how it can be adapted.
I was thrown off a bit by Sigourney Weaver in the film but thought Felicity Jones was good. It was harrowing seeing her as the film went on and seeing her progression get worse. There are a few heavy moments in the film that could get a casual moviegoer to shed some tears, but for me I can’t escape how disengaged I felt at many points in the film. The way I see it, this was probably a very interesting novel but not one that could be adapted properly because its thin.