Sometimes a trip to the countryside can be a good time. Other times, it can be just plain creepy. It can also be a bit eerie staying at a friend’s place, especially if you don’t know their significant other all too well. These two premises are smashed together in Making Monsters, playing this Sunday evening at Toronto After Dark.
Directed by former Geek Hard guests Justin Harding and Rob Brunner, Making Monsters follows Allison and Chris (played by Alana Elmer and Tim Loden), a pair of internet celebs with a scare/prank online video channel. After looking into fertility drugs to kickstart a pregnancy, the couple decides to head out to spend some time in the country at a friend’s place (a refurbished church house). Things are strange from the moment they arrive and they soon realize that not all is as it seems. Soon, Allison and Chris find out that they are now the victims of a prank that’s gone too far.
This is the first feature length film for Harding and Brunner. They’ve previously had a number successful shorts, some of which have played at After Dark in recent years. They’ve made the smart choice and continued with a formula that has worked for them in the past. They showcase a small cast and put them in a situation where the viewer can make up most of the horror in their own mind. There’s a handful of well placed, horrific scenes. We’re given some shocking imagery right at the start. Then we’re introduced to the main characters and lulled into a false sense of security. Things don’t really hit the fan again until the third act of the film. The performances keep the threat of dread present throughout the full running time.
Harding and Brunner picked a great pair for their leads. Tim Loden is very believable as Chris, a goofball wannabe alpha male who makes his living off of bad jokes and pranks. He’s got an attitude that makes you want to smack him in the face. This plays great off of Alana as Alison, a woman who’s had enough of the prank video channel. Alana makes Alison very relatable and easy to root for. This is her third time working with Harding. It’s no wonder he can get such an authentic performance out of her. Both are great but neither is the true MVP of the film. That honour goes to Jonathan Craig.
Jonathan Craig plays David, the couple’s host at the country house. He appears harmless at first. He’s a wacky dude who’s enamoured by Chris and Alana’s minor amount of fame. But as their stay at the house rolls on, David reveals a side of himself that is quite sadistic. His laughter is maniacal. It’s obvious he’s having a great time!
Making Monsters dances between horror and comedy, sometimes within the same scene. The transition is almost seamless at points in the film. At others, it’s a bit more rocky. The humour works well in the first act. It loses its effect in the final leg of the movie. There are still a few attempts that don’t quite land the way they did previously.
If you’re looking for a film that has quirky jokes and a few gory scenes, Making Monsters is worth checking out. It’s a character piece that uses its actors and location to their fullest. If you hate obnoxious Youtubers that play to the lowest common denominator, you’ll really love this film. You can live vicariously through the killer in this one. Catch Making Monsters this Sunday at 9:30PM at the Scotiabank Theatre as part of Toronto After Dark 2019. The movie plays with the short film Hearth by Sophie B. Jaques. Get your tickets HERE!
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