[31 Days Of Horror ’22] Mini Reviews: The Monster (2016) and Viy (1967)

Mini Review
Day 23: ‘Catch Up’
The Monster (2016)

There is a monster in all of us, something that reveals a darker side and if that monster isn’t dealt with it could send you down a dark path. This is just one of the themes in Day 23’s film The Monster (2016) from writer/director Bryan Bertino of The Strangers (2008) and the film does feature a monster being. The metaphors are on the surface with this film, which doesn’t take away from the intensity and intriguing characters we are introduced to. Told through a mother/daughter relationship with flashbacks, there are some tough subjects handled and it doesn’t shy away from showing a dark side with its characters.

A mother Kathy (Zoe Kazan) and daughter Lizzy (Ella Bellentine) are late for a road trip to take Lizzy to live with her father, as Kathy is dealing with her own demons (alcohol) and clearly needs help. Once on the road trip, Kathy and Lizzy accidentally hit a wolf and their car is run off the road. After calling for 911, they soon discover that they didn’t actually kill the wolf with something much bigger having done the deed and now its sights are set on the duo.

The Monster takes cues from Cujo (1983) and The Babadook (2014) with the family relationships and inner demons, it is a film about fighting the monster inside and in this case the monster has manifested into an unknown creature. There is no origin for the monster, there is no backstory and whether it is a manifestation of the inner demons or just a regular monster out in the woods is up to the viewer to decide. The performances from both leads Zoe Kazan and Ella Bellentine are excellent, there are some truly gut punching moments in the film and they made it crushing. This is a slow burn and intense film, it may not be to everyone’s tastes but it is certainly worth a look.


Mini Review
Day 24: ‘Folk Horror’
Viy (1967)

Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History Of Folk Horror (2021) has no doubt opened a lot of eyes to films that may have been forgotten or not talked about much anymore. Folk horror has always been an interesting genre, the documentary highlighted many gems of the genre and went into detail about the types of folk horror and all the countries that have made these films. Viy (1967) is a film that was attention grabbing into the documentary and has now found its way on 2022’s 31 Days Of Horror list and what a surreal experience this was! There is no right way to describe this film, it is many things all at once and its third act has some of the most bizarre scenes you’ll likely to see in a 60s horror film.

Hundreds of years ago in the now Ukraine, three novice monks get lost whilst on leave from the seminary, an old woman takes them in and gives them shelter for the night. The old woman finds one of the monks Khoma (Leonid Kuravlyov) and begins to ride him like a broomstick, revealing herself to be a witch. After Khoma attacks her with a stick she turns into a young woman and he runs away back to the seminary. Once there he is ordered to pray over a young woman in a small town for three nights, Khoma doesn’t want to do the job but was asked personally by the young woman before she passed. Khoma arrives and see the young woman is the same one the old lady turned into, once he is locked up in the chapel with her coffin he begins to pray as ordered but he is in for three long nights as the young woman haunts him.

Viy is quite the unique film, it is highly surreal with amazing matte paintings, costumes and scenery. It begins like an almost road trip comedy, what will these three drunk novice monks get up to on leave and very quickly it turns more sinister with the arrival of the old lady. The scenes within the chapel are by far the best in the film, as each night progresses things inside get much more weird and bizarre. There probably isn’t another film with the scene of a witch using a coffin as a surfboard whilst hovering around in a chapel, a scene that everyone should see at least once. This may be a strange and weird film, a little uneven at points but a highly entertaining one with a great visual aesthetic. There are ways you can interpret the themes and meaning behind the film, is it an anti-sex film? Perhaps, the themes are most certainly there but they could also be taken in other ways, which is a real treat with this film. Viy is a film that needs to be seen, it is quite the strange and wonderful ride.



Reviews written by Marcella Papandrea


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