dir. Chris Sivertson
When single mum Laura (Christina Ricci) leaves town with her son Cody (Santino Barnard) they settle in a remote country house in 1950s California. But with an abusive ex-husband calling and something evil in the pond behind their new home the promise of a peaceful life – and the American dream – feels perpetually out of reach.
Fresh off her turn in Yellowjackets Ricci does solid work here as a woman living under layers of gendered social pressure, her life a carousel of glossy magazines, Hotpoint adverts and secret drinking. Director Sivertson (I Know Who Killed Me) evokes a creeping uncanniness to this facade, recalling his script to Lucky McKee thriller Kindred Spirits, whilst the creature design of the water dweller effectively treads the line between showing just enough and remaining unnervingly amorphous.
Limitations arise however as the plot cycles through familiar haunted house beats (glitching lights, spooky shadows) and some televisual lensing that at times recalls a Hallmark film. In spite of this the final act flies, with a denouement which manages to both satisfy emotionally and twist the narrative in unexpected directions.
Ultimately Monstrous may not change the world, but as an allegory of repression – both social and psychological – it wades through worthwhile waters to moving effect.