I want to give this movie some credit: while a lot of found footage movies are incredibly cheap, The Monster Project had a budget for its monsters. I’ve absolutely seen worse effects in other movies, and the creatures here didn’t look like ass. The problem is that this movie is really, really proud of its monsters. It takes every opportunity–once things kick off at the halfway point–to show you them in action. But that becomes a problem, because the more you see clear shots of a creature, the less frightening it becomes. We become inured to it and can grow bored with it. And I know this feels more like a third paragraph thing rather than an intro, but I wanted to get that out of the way first.
The movie is a mockumentary of Devon (personality: douche) and Jamal (personality: a black guy written by white people) creating a show where they interview supposed “real” monsters. Along for the ride are Bryan (a former junkie) and Murielle (Devon’s ex). After a couple scenes that tease the interviewees, the group set up to record the interviews in an abandoned house that used to be the site of Satanic rituals. The monsters in attendance tonight are Steven the skinwalker (Native American werewolf), Shayla the vampire, and Shiori who is possessed by a demon the movie calls Smiling Man. When a total eclipse of the moon begins, all hell breaks loose. Steven transforms and goes on a rampage, Shiori loses control and starts being spooky, and I guess Shayla got bored or something and decided to join in on the carnage. Jamal is mauled by the skinwalker, Murielle is bitten by the vampire, and Smiling Man takes an interest in Bryan. “Oh,” I said to myself at this point, “the three are going to defeat the monsters, become monsters themselves, and then hopefully all kill Devon.” And the movie certainly looks that way when Shayla is killed! But then Jamal dies fighting Steven, and Bryan is forced to stake Murielle. Shiori’s eyes explode or something, so she’s dead too. That’s when the real twist happens! All this was set up by Devon! I mean, not just that it was his dumb idea to interview three monsters in a spooky building during a lunar eclipse, we already knew that… I mean he’s actually a Satanist who used the three monsters and two friends as sacrifices so that he can let Satan into his body. Bryan gets to watch because he’s religious, which is… sure, why not. The bad guys win, the movie ends.
For only an hour and forty minutes, this felt like a much longer movie. The monsters go wild at the halfway point! So much of the movie is just our protagonists (and Devon) running from monsters, and it becomes old real fast. Like I said earlier, the monster aren’t the worst effects I’ve seen, but they’re not good enough to be shown as much as they are. Hell, the end credits shows recaps of the monsters attacking just in case you didn’t get a good look of the werewolf the 15 times he was on screen before.
Also, this is a weird thing to harp on, but it was bugging me how half the cast use their real names. Devon was played by Mr. Justin Bruening, Bryan was Toby Hemingway, and Shayla was Yvonne Zima, but Jamal, Murielle, Steven, and Shiori used their real names. Like… why? Why not pick one naming pattern or the other? Why does this bother me more than the fact that Shayla was wearing painfully obvious white contacts and no one brought it up?
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