The latest release from DREAD is Book of Monsters, a film that mixes the angst of a teen slasher with more fantastic elements found in creature features. It’s the sophomore film from director Stewart Sparke, whose first film was the monster flick The Creature Below. If you’re detecting a thematic crossover between the two movies, you’d be spot on.
If you need more convincing that the flick is worth your time and attention, we’ve assembled the Top 5 reasons you should check out Book of Monsters at your earliest convenience. Have a read and let us know what you think at the bottom of the article.
Book of Monsters is currently available on a Blu-ray packed with special features; you can pick up your copy HERE.
The Interactive Element
During the crowdsourcing phase of Book of Monsters, Sparke and his team offered some unique rewards to backers; namely, the ability to influence aspects of the film. By donating specific amounts to the movie’s production, you could request specific monsters, kills, and even sequences. Sparke and Book of Monsters writer Paul Butler were inspired by their love of the Choose Your Own Adventure stories that were popular in the 1980s. Of course, this unique interactive element didn’t come without its specific challenges: Sparke and Butler had less than two weeks from the end of their crowdsourcing campaign until the start of production to incorporate the elements backers had paid for!
The Dynamic Duo
Filmmaking duos are becoming more common in horror. We’ve got the Duffers (Matt and Ross) who launched Stanger Things, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer who helmed Starry Eyes and the upcoming remake of Pet Sematary, and (of course) James Wan and Leigh Whannell who rose to superstardom together by masterminding the Saw and Insidious franchises.
Sparke and Butler previously worked together as the director and writer of The Creature Below. In fact, they’ve been a filmmaking team since they first met in college and discovered a shared love of the horror genre. Though they had ambitious ideas about creating a John Carpenter-esque thriller set on an icebreaker, they wisely decided to cut their teeth on a series of shorts. As for this team approach, Sparke wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We have each other’s back and we each have our own skills.
I come up with crazy ideas and, as a writer, Paul keeps me grounded in reality.
But we always inspire each other to produce our best work.”
While Book of Monsters has its share of
mean girls and cat fights, it also has an admirable heroine in Sophie, played
by Lyndsey Craine. She’s a young woman on the verge of adulthood, and the
events of the film force her into the role of heroine—whether she wants to be
or not. Craine’s performance is immediately endearing, genuinely emoted, and downright
bad ass! She doesn’t have a huge filmography yet, but she’s definitely a rising
actor to watch out for.
Fans of 1980s era horror movies, especially those who frequent conventions, may instantly recognize Nicholas Vince when he pops up on screen. “Recognize” is kind of a funny word to use, since he’s most famous for portraying the Chatterer Cenobite in Hellraiser and the moon-faced Kinski in Nightbreed—two roles that completely obscure any of the actor’s identifying features. In Book of Monsters, however, we see Vince like never before. Sparke explains:
“We thought it would be funny and ironic to take this horror icon who’s known for playing monsters, and then cast him as a sweet, bumbling, single-father!”
The Blu-ray for Book of Monsters is packed with outtakes, including emotionally poignant scenes between Craine and Vince that will definitely tug at your heartstrings! Another advantage to having Vince in Book of Monsters was the excitement he generated on set.
“Everyone wanted to up their game for him,” Sparke tells me.
The Love of Monsters
Until recently, monster movies have been regarded as something of a goof, or a throwback to bygone eras. Now, films like Godzilla 2014 and Kong: Skull Island have reinvigorated the giant monster subgenre of horror. Sparke thinks this may reflect sociopolitical changes happening around the world: “Depending on where you live,” he explains, “the idea of a hideous monster cleansing humanity from Earth might not seem like such a far-fetched idea!”
But in all seriousness, Book of Monsters is a love-letter to creatures from the horror genre large and small—and it shows. The cast and filmmakers clearly committed themselves 100% to the project, generating infectious mayhem that’s nothing if not entertaining. You can tell Sparke has been a monster fan all of his life.
“After watching Alien as a kid, I check under my bed for a Xenomorph for the next five years. I was terrified! But I still loved monster movies growing up and, obviously, that love continues to this day.”
Give the synopsis and trailer for Book of Monsters a
Sophie’s 18th birthday becomes a bloodbath when monsters descend upon her house and start to devour the party guests. Sophie and her friends must rally together to send their party crashers back to hell.