U/A: Drama, Horror, Mystery
Cast: Azhy Robertson, Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr.
Director: Jacob Chase
This generic horror flick, a feature version of the 2017 short film, is fashioned around a fairly stimulating story but the usual predictable tricks employed, doesn’t allow for any overwhelming creepiness to affect or scare you.
Somewhat like Babadook where a monster manifests itself from a children’s book, here a monster named Larry manifests itself through smart phones and mobile devices. More fantasy than creepy, this film employs quite a few jump scares but the effect is intriguing rather than alarming.
Oliver (Azhy Robertson of Marriage Story), a young boy with autism, struggles to get by both at home and in school. He doesn’t speak but communicates via his smartphone, which presents his words to those around him. Typically, he is a target of bullies, and therefore traumatized enough to fall prey to the lurking Larry. The monster or the presence of it is conveyed right at the beginning itself. Oliver, while watching SpongeBob SquarePants video on his mobile starts getting creeped out when his screen gets taken over by an illustrated tale “Misunderstood Monsters.” That red herring notwithstanding, the narrative opens up to family dynamics where Oliver’s estranged but concerned and loving parents Mom (Gillian Jacobs) and Dad (John Gallagher Jr.) play out their roles. Oliver’s over dependence on the mobile device actually bares open the interpersonal deficiencies prevalent in modern day child rearing. But that’s not necessarily the theme the Director/writer wants to chase.
Writer/Director Jacob Chase makes a strong bid for a stylised rendition even though it does not come through as palpably as he intended it to. While the idea of having a child with a spectrum disability becoming suitable prey to a monster may be believable, it does open up a debate on the ethics of using such a plot point and the impression it might convey to the young suggestible and vulnerable target audience. The narrative is fashioned around generic horror bait and clichés. When the going gets hoary the actors rescue it with some genuine emotion…but those moments are fairly brief and rather distended. The character arcs don’t get much rigor and the predictability makes it tend to disinteresting. While the monster is presented in a manner that captures the imagination, there’s hardly any atmospherics to go with it. The narrative hints at several underlying themes but none of them are explored to full potential and as a result there appears to be a distention in the storytelling craft. This is at best a bearable watch!
Also read: The Broken Hearts Gallery Review: Romancing Failed Relationships
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