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NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS Review–Welcome to the Family

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Starring Angel Giuffria, Matthew Clarke, and Georgia Crisfield Smith

Written by Karen Elgar and Stuart Stanton

Directed by Stuart Stanton


Some families can be close-knit and loving, while others can be violent and terrifying.  In cinematic history, especially in the horror vein, families take a turn to the dysfunctional and demented.  These crazed clans come in many forms from the gore-filled House of 1000 Corpses, to the supernatural madness of The Shining, to everyone’s favorite cannibal family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  There are also true-to-life, cult-crazed “families” such as the devastating nerve agent subway attack courtesy of the Aum Shinrikyo cult in Tokyo, the congressman killing, cyanide suicides of The People’s Temple in Guyana, and the infamous thrill-killing Manson Family in Los Angeles.

Uncork’d Entertainment in conjunction with Final Focus Australia, introduces us to a family whose fragmented features of maligned minds fit in nicely with many of the families above.  To call them maladjusted would be a mass understatement.

Mary (Angel Guffria) is convinced by her controlling boyfriend David (Matthew Clarke) to partake on a camping trip in a caravan.  Mary is reluctant and we discover why as she is extremely claustrophobic.  When the couple find the perfect remote location, they are accompanied by a bizarre brood that consists of Nelly (Michela Pascoe), Becca (Rebecca Fortuna), and Elmer (Jacob Fyfe).  The one who stands out the most is the doll-dressed, mask clad, puppet wielding sister Amy (Georgia Crisfield Smith) who it’s discovered has been badly burned in an accident and thus her odd appearance.  This family uncomfortably approaches Mary and David, but this awkwardness seems to subside as the two camps share an amiable affair around a campfire the following night.  The amiability turns into an abduction as the family takes Mary and David hostage, commandeers their vehicle and caravan, and brings them to their familial abode.  Mary, dealing with her phobia and her imprisonment, partakes in a battle with this disturbed family and works to overcome strange and unexpected obstacles in order to not only save her boyfriend, but herself.

Authored by Karen Elgar and Stuart Stanton and directed by Stuart Stanton, this film is an unblinking excursion into the insane spirit of a psychotic family.  Ms. Elgar and Mr. Stanton do an incredible job of developing and fleshing out these characters to their fullest as they deal with their demented behaviors in different ways.  From a visual aspect, Mr. Stanton, along with cinematographer Joel Francis do a marvelous job making us extremely uncomfortable witnessing how certain family members interact with the couple at the campsite and how discomfort turns into terror when the duo descends into imprisonment.  The fly-on-the-wall aspect with a strong POV filmic style feels right for this story as it keeps you on edge until the end.

The performances are all-around awesome; a standout is Michaela Pascoe’s frightening performance as Nelly, the unpredictable alpha dog of the family.  Angel Guffria shines as the unwitting but determined victim as she foregoes various attempts to free herself and the spectrum of emotions that accompany her as she aims for emancipation.  Rebecca Fortuna excels in her role of the manipulating femme fatale Becca.  Georgia Crisfield Smith is exceptional as the physically and mentally damaged Amy. What stands out in her performance is Amy channeling her voice through her hand puppet while her own mouth is muted is not an easy feat for an actor, but she handles this duality deftly creating a very disturbing persona.

Professor Carol Clover (Men, Women, and Chainsaws) stated in the film The American Nightmare, “One of the lessons in these films is don’t try to save girls.  Girls can save themselves.”  No Such Thing as Monsters is a prime example of this and could be a standard-bearer because, unlike its predecessors which is usually a female battling a bunch of males, while this is a woman saving herself from a den of mostly females, which gives this film a unique and refreshing take on the family horror genre.

  • NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS
4.0

Summary

No Such Thing As Monsters is an unblinking excursion into the insane spirit of a psychotic family.

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Written by Paul Grammatico

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