YEAR: 2024 / COUNTRY: UNITED STATES / LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / RUN TIME: 98 MIN
Melissa Barrara, Tommy Dewey, Meghann Fahy, Edmund Donovan, Kayla Foster
Director(s): Caroline Lindy
Filmmaker Caroline Lindy invites us into the wondrous and dazzling world of her debut feature, a genre-defying monster mash that’s equal parts twisted and romantic with a dash of musical whimsy. Melissa Barrera shines as Laura, capturing her ascent from pie-eating post-surgery doldrums to empowered theater stardom in which the sinister sides of herself are finally allowed to bubble freely to the surface. In Tommy Dewey, she finds a perfect match for her fantastical, unexpected monster — charming, witty, and dangerously likable. A welcome re-steering of the rom-com into darker realms, Your Monster encourages us all to liberate our inner demons.
Written By Darren Zakus
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Your Monster is a show-stopping, hilarious and absolutely adorable horror romantic comedy that takes audiences on an unforgettable ride that is brought to life by wonderful musical moments, an excellent screenplay and directorial effort from Caroline Lindy, and a magnificent cast led by two outstanding lead performances from Melissa Barrera and Tommy Dewey that is destined to become a cult classic!
Filmmakers turning their short films into feature length pictures either works very well, like Damien Chazelle with Whiplash, or can be a complete misfire as the concept does not have enough to sustain a ninety plus minute runtime, like this year’s Night Swim. Writer director Caroline Lindy, making her feature length film writing and directorial debut, has crafted a truly unique and outstanding film with Your Monster, perfectly blending the romantic comedy and horror genres, with a Broadway musical theatre twist to it. It’s an absolute crowd pleaser that will have you laughing, swooning, shedding the occasional tear, and tapping your toes to that great musical numbers, that with a truly impressive cast led by a fearless and magnificent performance from Melissa Barrera, makes Your Monster one of the most impressive films of Sundance 2024 thus far.
There is a certain whimsical feel that you get while watching a romantic comedy, and Lindy’s script captures that tone and feeling with ease. When we first meet Laura, she is at her lowest after being dumped by her long friend boyfriend after undergoing surgery to remove her cancer. Moving back to her childhood home, Laura discovers a terrifying but charming and goofy Monster living in her closet. Watching Laura and Monster fall for each other is truly delightful, from the funny moments that Lindy writes into the script, brought to life by the outstanding chemistry of Barrera and Tommy Dewey. The humour written into the script is deadly funny, while giving Laura an empowering arc with wonderful character development. It’s a classic romantic comedy plot that goes through all the motions of the genre that you could see coming from Nora Ephron, but there is a horror twist to it all that makes it feel fresh and exciting. Lindy’s script never misses a beat, seamlessly blending the cute moments with the horror elements to create a truly shocking and wildly entertaining film that you won’t soon forget.
From a technical perspective, the film itself is excellent. The prosthetics and makeup used to transform Dewey into Monster is incredible, showcasing the terrifying nature of Monster while still allowing Dewey to be present in the character and allow his facial expressions capture the goofy and caring character that he truly is. It’s amazing work, and one that does not require any CGI to create this mythical beast that reminds you how incredible filmmaking can be. The sound design for the musical numbers is exquisite, combined with the great choreography for the sequences, truly brings to life Daniel and Patrick Lazour’s brilliant original songs. Especially in that show-stopping final scene where Barrera belts out a sensational song, singing live, that combined with the absurdity and emotion of Lindy’s story, results in a truly jaw dropping moment that you won’t ever forget to close out the film! And the film was shot over a twenty day period, while the actors were simultaneously rehearsing and learning the choreography, showing what true talent was involved to make this incredible film on such a short timeline.
In the past few years, Barrera has made a name for herself in the horror genre with films like Scream and the upcoming Abigail, as well as the musical genre with In The Heights and Carmen. But Your Monster lets her combine both of these genres, allowing her to truly flex her acting muscles. Barrera takes audiences on a journey with Laura’s arc as she slowly processes her breakup and falls for Monster, while conjuring up the courage to take control of her life. It’s a stunning performance where Barrera brings a timidness and sweetness to Laura, a great comedic timing when dabbling with the romantic comedy elements of the story, while also having powerful moments of strength and emotional outbursts that has her flexing every skill she possesses as an actress. In short, it’s a career best performance from Barrera that solidifies her not only as one of the best modern scream queens, but just one of the most exciting actresses of her generation working today. Opposite Barrera is Dewey as Monster, and he is just as outstanding as her. From the second he appears on screen, he brings a mysterious mix of danger, comedy and chivalry to the role, creating the ideal leading man for a romantic comedy that is impossible not to fall for. His expressive face does wonders bringing to life the caring soul within Monster, making him more human than some of the film’s other characters, never letting the prosthetics overtake his performance for a second but letting them bolster his work instead. As a romantic pairing, there is an instant connection between Barrera and Dewey built on cute interactions, intimate conversations, and some outrageous moments of laughter that instantly makes this a romantic pairing you can’t help but root for.
While Barrera and Dewey dazzle every second they are on screen, the supporting cast is every bit as incredible. Edmund Donovan is, in a metaphorical sense, the film’s true monster as Jacob, making it so easy to despise his character’s guts after what he does to Laura. Kayla Foster, who also produced the film, is great as Laura’s friend Mazie, fully embodying the comedic relief best friend that every romantic comedy needs. But it is the work of Meghann Fahy as Jackie, the big star of the musical who shines the most in the supporting cast. Stealing every scene she is in with a sincere attitude towards her work and the other characters, showcasing at every turn the insane talent she possesses as an actor and reminding audiences of why they fell in love with her on The White Lotus.
First time feature films of a director are always exciting to watch, as you could just discover a new and exciting filmmaker, and that is exactly what Caroline Lindy has done with Your Monster. It’s a tour de force directorial effort from her that delivers a genre bending story that has the best of the romantic comedy, horror and musical genre all rolled into one, resulting in one unforgettable cinematic experience that is impossible not to have an absolute blast with. Led by two unbelievable performances from Melissa Barrera and Tommy Dewey, with great musical numbers and an unforgettable show-stopping final scene after a truly wild build up of story to get to that moment, Your Monster is the cute horror romantic comedy that is going to steal audiences’ hearts and leave them in absolute disbelief!