REVIEW: Are We Monsters (2021)

dir. Seb Cox.

Maya (Charlotte Olivia) is a werewolf who must fight against her animalistic instincts and decide who she wants to become, before she does irreparable damage to her friendship with the peppy and upbeat Luke (Jathis Sivanesan). However not only does she have to contend with her own internal struggles, she must also evade two brothers who are set on destroying all of her kind.

Lycanthropy is subgenre that historically has been under-utilised, and apart from a few standouts – such as An American Werewolf In London (1981) or Ginger Snaps (2000) – the werewolf seems to be horror’s forgotten middle child. Here director Cox’s feature debut doesn’t actually contain a traditional “werewolf”: in fact the creatures are more cryptid like, with guttural screams that could put any black metal band to shame. The lore presented is also centred around Greek mythology and played out with some incredible animated sequences: however though visually stunning these feel a little uncoordinated with the characters and general storyline. 

The narrative too feels at times convoluted and difficult to follow, and would have benefited from more time spent on explaining character’s backgrounds and reasons for meeting. However the use of a singular location – especially one that represents the coming together of nature and man – is powerful, particularly since this is basically what a werewolf embodies. 

Essaying a coming of age story with relatable characters that are played with such gusto, it’s difficult not to empathise with their internal and external journeys: between feeling like one must live up to predetermined standards set by parents or tradition, to having to accept a future that is out of one’s own control, the character development is a familiar one played with youthful verve. 

⭐⭐⭐

Ygraine Hackett-Cantabrana

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