Monstro! (a.k.a El monstro del mar!, 2010.
Written and Directed by Stuart Simpson.
Starring Norman Yemm, Nelli Scarlet, Kyrie Capri, Karli Madden and Kate Watts.
Three gorgeous but lethal assassins arrive in a sleepy seaside town, where they accidentally awaken a vicious sea creature and have to fight for survival as the monster reaps its fury on the town.
With a crew that is so small that the Director’s Assistant and the 1st AD get named in the opening credits, Stuart Simpson’s 2010 monster flick Monstro! rolls on to DVD today.
Simpson has the Garth Marenghi role in Monstro! by writing, directing, producing, shooting and editing the movie while helping out with the visual effects in post-production. It’s this low-budget “I’ll do everything myself” filmmaking that spawned from the likes of Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith that has dominated the indie filmmaking landscape for the last 20 years with mixed results. Often you get appalling efforts like The 25th Reich which I reviewed a few months back, but every now and again you find a little gem that is entertaining, funny and well made – Monstro! is one of them.
The film opens with a gorgeous looking black and white scene that introduces our characters – the femme fatale vixens known as Beretta, Blondie and Snowball, who smoulder the screen with their rockabilly Suicide Girls look. This opening scene is a great way to introduce us to the movie and even though it has a different tone to the rest of the film, you can’t help but get kind of engrossed into the scene and the change from black and white to colour is actually kind of genius. I could hark on about how the characters are quite lifeless and bland and how the writing is nothing short of pure pants, but that’s not really what this film is about.
However I will say that from there, Monstro! does almost grind to a halt while we get scenes of exposition and artistic filmmaking which, for the most part, are really dull. We watch the girls get drunk with local girl Hannah in a scene that is reminiscence of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (only not quite as good) while the plot slowly but surely kicks in. The sea front they’re staying at appears to have a “death curse” (to coin a phrase from Friday the 13th) as the sea is plagued by a giant monster by the name of Monstro. From there the film moves from being a Death Proof-esque Grindhouse homage into schlocky b-movie horror territory that often reminded me of The Deadly Spawn.
While the movie sags in the middle, it really picks up for its thrilling climax which, as a monster movie fan, is a joy to watch. The beautiful on-set practical effects are fun, the blood levels are high and the action is quite intense. I would argue that it could have been better had the characters been actually likeable but the whole scene is creatively done that it’s quite easy to forgive it. You get so involved with each blow and because the film doesn’t rely on wobble-shaky-cam-with-quick-edits, you linger on each shot more and more. I haven’t seen a climax to a low budget film like this that is this good in quite some time.
Mixed with some great performances from all involved, especially as they have no other movie acting experience, all it all adds up to Monstro! being quite a fun little outing. It’s not brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy it. It’s certainly worth a rent or stream, but if you can find it cheap to buy and you like low budget monster movies, you’ll find a lot worse than Monstro!. The 2nd act is kind of a drag, but the opening and closing scenes more than make up for it.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Luke Owen is a freelance copywriter working for Europe’s biggest golf holiday provider as their web content executive.