Monster Movie (2008)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Brian Berry, John Polonia, Todd Carpenter, Mark Polonia, Ken VanSant
Directed by Mark and John Polonia
During the summer of 2009 in rural Pennsylvania, one of the movie most terrifying occurrences of the unnatural unfolded.
The events were captured on a motion picture film by a group of vacationers.
The material is presented, unaltered and uncut, from the original raw footage.
Due to the condition it was found in, some film damage is present.
The entire incident is being covered up by local Government and Federal agencies.
The footage was discovered and leaked to the public. It was classified under the heading... MONSTER MOVIE
Monster Movie is the Polonia Brothers' attempt to make their very own backyard Cloverfield. Yep, it's another one of those found footage flicks complete with fake scratches on the print ala Grindhouse.
Now my personal experiences with the microbudget films of the Polonia Brothers have been limited and rather unpleasant. Peter Rottentail (review) and Razorteeth (review) both made it high on my ten worst DTV horror movies of their respective years. Razorteeth was so damn near unwatchable that I even swore off ever watching another of their films in my review of it. But when I saw the trailer for Monster Movie a few months back I thought it looked like a hoot. My fingers were crossed. Given the untimely death of John Polonia - he tragically passed away earlier this year from an aneurysm - I wish I could write here that I really enjoyed their final movie together but, alas, that is not the case. Even at 77-minutes there's barely enough material here to pad out a short film let alone a feature length one. I can say this one is easily the best of the three Polonia Brothers movies I've reviewed.
Monster Movie is the 16mm camera footage of four average Joe's on their annual vacation together. This year's destination is a cabin by a lake. Along the way they stop to film a house fire, notice lots of missing persons posters, marvel at some mutilated animals on the side of the road, and a gas station attendant tells them the tall tale about the lake they're headed to and the bad things that have happened there. The bad things come in the form of a large reptilian monster that's something of a cross between a dinosaur and hippo.
From the trailer I was under the impression that Monster Movie was meant to be a lively, campy, more comical piece of cinema verite. Then I noticed I wasn't laughing. Then I noticed that none of these four were saying or doing anything that entertained me. Then I found out the dialogue was entirely improvised, that there was no actual script outside of an outline of scenes. Suddenly it made sense. On the one hand, their pre-monster scenes were quite fitting for what is supposed to be someone's amateur vacation footage - even with the weirder plot-related stuff thrown in. Problem is, well, you ever been subjected to someone else's amateur vacation footage? Doesn't exactly make for the most entertaining time. Almost everything these four say and do is mundane to the point of disinterest. No laughs, no tension. Improv isn't easy, folks.
And Cloverfield didn't take 40+ minutes to finally get around to introducing the monster to the mix either.
With so much of it involving people roaming around the woods often in a state of panic, Monster Movie owes more to The Blair Witch Project than Cloverfield, though Blair Witch did not occasionally cut to a roaring rubber monster puppet head. That dino puppet head still displayed more personality than anyone else in the movie. We eventually get a shot of the full-bodied monster puppet, actually some pretty decent no-budget f/x work courtesy of fellow microbudget maestro Brett Piper. I realize the extreme lack of budget severely limits what can be done with the monster but the movie is called Monster Movie and when I'm watching a monster movie I'm expecting a whole lot more monster than I got here.
On the plus side, Monster Movie is still a better take on Cloverfield than The Asylum's Monster mockbuster. I may not have cared much for their film but at least the Polonia Brothers seemed to care.
1 1/2 out of 5
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