Movie review: There Are Monsters (2013)

Synopsis: A group of filmography students on a road trip begin to notice people behaving strangely. It’s an invasion of the body snatchers! Will they survive long enough to record the end of humanity?

Director: Jay Dahl

Starring: Matthew Amyotte, Jason Daley, Suzanne Hawkins and Guy Germain

Review: I keep saying ‘I don’t like “found footage” films’, then along comes another which proves to me they’re not all poor knock-offs of The Blair Witch Project (see my review of ‘Savageland‘.

The premise for ‘There Are Monsters’ is fairly simple – a group of filmography students are taking a road trip to interview former students for a university promo. However, it’s not long before they start to see people acting strangely.

I’ll leave you to watch the movie to see what happens next.

Now, it’s been a long time since I was properly scared but this movie unsettled me right from the beginning. Dahl does a good job of setting up the team and revealing the monsters in a well-paced and interesting way. You’re made to feel unsettled within the first 15minutes and you don’t get a respite until the end. Dahl knows his audience is there for the monsters and quickly establishes his characters, a pretty likeable group of filmography students.

I really liked that much of the action happens in very familiar settings, such as a supermarket and frankly, who doesn’t find public toilets a bit creepy? The monsters themselves seem to be a blend of those from Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Stepford Wives – good imitations of humans, but not *quite* right.  What makes them so effective is they almost perfect replicant, but just slightly unnerving. It’s subtle, yet very effective.

This movie is shot on a budget and in places it shows. Obviously, as a found footage film, most of the movie is shot on handheld cameras with some other shots on a standard camera. I did get a bit confused, given the bulk of the movie was supposed to be found footage, who was filming the other segments? I found the lack of continuity in storyteller distracting and it would pull me out of the narrative.

My major issue was that the characters were supposed to be filmography students and could barely focus their cameras! So many shots were out of focus, shaky or just a blank screen. I found it really frustrating and a waste of footage. It was also a distraction from the action, which is a shame as the build-up and monsters are really well thought through.

Yet, despite the shakiness of the camera, I did find myself going back to ‘There Are Monsters’ for a rewatch. Hubby came in about 30minutes in and instantly asked why I was watching a found footage movies as ‘you hate those’. However, within a few minutes, he too was hooked and we’ve been looking more closely at our neighbours to check if ‘There Are Monsters’.

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