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The Monster Project (2017)

I am surprised that this is a film I had never heard of, or even come across through the magnitude of horror content I digest on a weekly basis, and it was only through recommendation that I discovered it. The problem with a recommendation is that you do form a preconception before you experienced it yourself, so I guess the question is, does this warrant the recommendation given?

The strongest element of this production is definitely the story, having a really unique and interesting concept that gives plenty of time to develop the lore and mythology of the monsters and their individual origins, this is done using an interview/documentary style plot progression, something I find that not only lends itself very well to the found footage genre but works exceptionally well for the characters in this film. Once the team arrive at a house in which the last act takes place, this really does have a constant on the edge of your seat feeling about it and this is something only enhanced by the desolate and decrepit set location used.

I don't necessarily have any issues with the casting department, it is certainly nothing groundbreaking but all of them do a convincing enough job. I found Bryan played by Toby Hemingway to be the strongest performer of the group. His character had the more engaging and well-developed arc of the characterswe follow. If I had to criticise any of the 4 main cast it would have to be Jamal. His dialogue is rather tongue in cheek at times and I found him to be a little to eccentric with his character stereotypes.

Where this film really shines is with the makeup effects of the monsters. For the most part practical effects are used, with the Skinwalker Steven played by Shayne Eastin and the Vampire Shayla played by Yvonne Zima being the strongest, especially during the transition scene of the Skinwalker. That's not to say there isn't the odd use of CGI during these transitions, but generally these moments are more than serviceable. The Demon Shiori (played by Shiori Ideta) is the one character I found suffered from being the biggest victim of the CGI. When in Demon form, I couldn't help but feel like it looked more like a filter you would find on a mobile phone app more than anything it was trying to resemble.

The cinematography is as you would expect from a found footage production of this standard. I found it slightly to heavy on the shaky camera than I would like, especially within the last half of the production. This last half is also spent using solely night vision and has a strictly green and black tone to everything on screen. Combining these two elements together made for a jarring experience and became quite difficult to follow the story progression at times. That's not to say that these are not effective techniques in the found footage genre, I just think this was a style choice that was taken on too early and overstayed its welcome here.

'The Monster Project' takes an approach to the found found footage genre that I haven't seen done before, especially with its characters. It's by no means perfect. But, I really enjoyed it for what it was and I feel this is something that would work very well with multiple sequels, utilising the wide range of monsters available. The biggest disappointment was the plots ultimate twist reveal. It was something I suspected pretty early on. Had this not had so much emphasis on a certain characters departure from the group for a period of time, I maybe wouldn't have picked up on it so quickly. Overall though, this is still a strong recommendation regardless of some minor issues I took with it along the way.



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