The Monster (2005)

"Very Good"

The Monster (2005) Review


In Hong Kong they don't have enough room for haunted houses, so they have haunted luxury high-rise apartment blocks instead. It's into one such complex that yuppie couple May (Qi Shu) and Ray (Alex Fong) move with their utterly adorable five-year-old son Chi Lo (Tam Chun Ho). That's the setup for The Monster, and even before the happy family finishes lugging all their boxes into the elevator, there's trouble. Little Chi Lo sees something -- or someone -- lurking in the elevator shaft.

May is a skittish and high-strung mom, a worrier. She has trouble mixing with the other yuppie housewives and looks to a birthday party for her neighbor's daughter as a way to break the ice. Fat chance. At the rooftop party, she watches Chi Lo disappear over the parapet. The weird thing: He doesn't fall. He is grabbed and pulled. When the police look for a splattered corpse at ground level they find nothing.

After a search of the complex, even May's hysteria doesn't encourage the cops to look further. But she and Ray persevere, handing out flyers and inspecting the bowels of the building. Eventually, they hear their son's plaintive cries inside the ductwork and locate him, only to see him dragged away once again by some sort of female apparition. Is she a ghost? A homeless person? A monster? May's sanity begins to snap, but her intense mother love makes her continue the search, even though her neighbors are worrying that her spook stories are starting to hurt their property values.

That's about all that should be said plot-wise, because the revelations of the identity of the mystery ghoul and the motives behind the whole affair are what make this creepfest so enjoyable. Qi Shu has a lot to work with here. Her role is both a physical challenge and a real emotional workout. She's great at hysterical freakouts.

But even more credit must be given to the amazing Tam Chun Ho. Remember how the young Shirley Temple was once honored by the Academy with a miniature Oscar? Well here's hoping the Hong Kong film establishment has a similar honor to bestow upon this remarkable child, who has to endure nearly constant terror including being left behind in cold chest-deep water in a basement, being dangled from heights, being attacked by a dog, and being clutched to the chest of a truly freaky ghoul for most of the film's running time. Director Pou-Soi Cheang freely admits in the DVD extras that the cast and crew needed to keep the poor kid frightened all the time to make sure they could get the reactions they needed. Sadist.

The Monster is scary in all kinds of ways, but it's most effective on the psychological level, delivering its shocks in Rosemary's Babyish ways that elicit not only fear but also sadness and sympathy. If you've ever considered living in a high-rise apartment, this movie will surely change your mind.

Aka Gwai Muk, Home Sweet Home.

I thought we told you to stay out of the oil cans.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Pou-Soi Cheang

Producer: Pou-Soi Cheang,

Also starring: , ,

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Cars 3 Movie Review

Cars 3 Movie Review

It's been six years since the last Cars movie (there were two Planes movies in...

The Beguiled Movie Review

The Beguiled Movie Review

In her inimitable loose style, Sofia Coppola remakes the 1971 Clint Eastwood movie from a...

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

War for the Planet of the Apes Movie Review

The surprisingly thoughtful prequel trilogy comes to a powerful conclusion with this robust, dramatic thriller,...

It Comes At Night Movie Review

It Comes At Night Movie Review

This sharply original horror film not only approaches its premise from an unexpected angle, but...

Okja Movie Review

Okja Movie Review

As Tilda Swinton reteams with her Snowpiercer director, Korea's Bong Joon Ho, it's perhaps unsurprising...

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming Movie Review

This may be the third reboot of this franchise in 15 years, risking audience exhaustion,...

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Despicable Me 3 Movie Review

Actually the fourth film in the series (don't forget the prequel Minions), this animated super-villain...

Advertisement
Baby Driver Movie Review

Baby Driver Movie Review

Wildly energetic and so cool it hurts, this action movie has been put together in...

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

All Eyez On Me Movie Review

There's a clear sense that this Tupac Shakur biopic is hoping to build on the...

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.