Making Monsters follows a couple who star in their own scare-prank social streaming channel. When an old friend invites them to his rural church-turned-home, they timidly accept the weekend getaway. Upon arriving, they meet their friend's awkward boyfriend and things quickly spiral out of control.
Making Monsters Review
The Colorado premiere of Making Monsters at Telluride Horror Show was received with applause as the credits rolled, and with good reason. This horror genre mash-up combines a number of modern horror tropes and concepts to bring something truly unique and special. Despite familiarity found in elements of the story's design, the film manages to feel like none of the films of which I'm reminded, and is instead its own entertaining gem.
Director Justin Harding does a fantastic job of taking the budget as far as it can go. The cinematography and score gracefully carry the audience through the blend of comedy, thrills, and terror seamlessly. In one scene you're laughing and in the next scene you gasp, and it all feels intertwined without breaking the momentum of the audience's engagement. It's a truly different experience that keeps you on your toes from a reactive perspective and keeps you guessing as the plot unfolds.
Of course, the extremely talented Jonathan Craig (featured in our comic) was able to help stretch the budget even further by having the film done on his property (he owns the church-turned-house a majority of the film is shot on) and creating his own costume and mask. His performance reminds one of Mark Duplass' turn in Creep, with a haunting, unsettling, yet hilarious character design that often steals the show.
But not to be undone by Craig's showmanship is the equally-talented Alana Elmer, who plays the heroine of our tale. Her character easily boasts the most depth and carries the greatest weight as her character progresses through the torturous circumstances she is forced to endure.
The atmosphere that fills the church-turned-house the first night and the hours that follow is palpable. Motives and the reality of the situation are difficult to grasp, which makes the underlying mystery constantly at the forefront while chaos ensues. The plot is simple yet complex at the same time, reminding me of The Pact in certain moments. The semi-meta social influencer aspect properly exercises as a catalyst rather than as the primary force, much like the digression of Grave Encounters, though Making Monsters is rightfully less self-aware as such an approach would be unnecessary.
These familiarities are nothing more than pleasant reference points for a person that has watched a thousand-too-many horror films and nothing more, as Making Monsters carries its own on all fronts. The comedy and scares are stacked on top of one another like a staggered Jenga tower that leaves you flabbergasted at how your friend continues to pull a plank out and keep the thing up. But that steady wobbling of the tower is all-the-more impressive by its funky balancing act and the film, and audience, are better for it. It's part-mystery, part-psychological horror, part-slasher, part-supernatural thriller, part-horror comedy...yet the fine puree makes it difficult to narrow the film down as one of these exclusively.
Making Monsters is a unique experience in horror because of the blend of atmosphere and humor that are prevalent throughout. The passion the cast and crew have for their proverbial baby is on display and makes it easier for the audience to connect and enjoy the film. I hope this is one of many feature films we will get to see from Harding and this cast in the near future.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 9/10 Horror Quality: 8/10 Film Quality: 8/10