MONSTER KILLERS (2020)
Directed by Calvin Main (“Bedroom Window,” “Good Evening,” “The Sneak”), Richard Powell (“Familiar”), Ben Steiner (“The Flea”), Patrick Rea (“Howl of a Good Time,” “Get Off My Porch”)
Written by Calvin Main, Anthony Fanelli (“Bedroom Window,” “Good Evening,” “The Sneak”), Richard Powell (“Familiar”), Ben Steiner (“The Flea”), Patrick Rea (“Howl of a Good Time,” “Get Off My Porch”)
Starring Alison Becker, Chris Alvarado, Samuel Almazon, Jason Beaubien (“Bedroom Window”), Robert Nolan, Astrida Auza, Cat Hostick (“Familiar”), Mark Fleishman, Simon Meacock, Anna Fiertag, Keith Francis, Mercedes Grower, Elsa Mace (“The Flea”), Steve Brewster, Brock Powell (“Good Evening”), Tamara Glynn, Leslie Easterbrook, Rene Geerlings, Chris Lazzaro, Morgan Collar (“Howl of a Good Time”), Brad Meehan, Katherine McNamara, Andrea Strickler, Jennifer Plas (“Get Off My Porch”), Reggie Couz, Shelley Regner (“The Sneak”)
MONSTER HUNTERS is a collection of odds and ends short films that seem to only share the simple theme of having monsters in the story. There’s not really a wraparound segment that guides the viewer through the anthology. But just because it is lumped together in a slap-dash way doesn’t mean the short stories aren’t good. Quite the opposite.
The first story is one I am familiar with called “Familiar.” It is a subtle terror tale about a man unhappy in his marriage and life and looking forward to disappearing soon and leaving them behind. Told mostly in inner dialog from genre actor Robert Nolan and directed by Richard Powell, this is a psychological body horror nightmare that literally will get under your skin. I loved it when I saw this film years ago and it still holds up as a tensely paced man versus his monstrous self that I can’t forget.
My favorite of the bunch is “The Flea” from director Ben Steiner. This one is about a serial killer who murders young babies and the elderly with wooden stakes. A quiet man knows who it is, but doesn’t have the power to stop him. I found this shortie to be extremely tense and well done. The minimalist look of the killer with a mask made of panty hose with holes cut into it is simply and still terrifying. This one doesn’t last long, but the suggestion of disturbing gore and actual gore spattering all over the screen by the end makes this one something worth every suspense-laden moment.
Coming up third is another brief stab at scares that works pretty well. An old man prepares fervently for a guest and recites an incantation in an ancient language to send the invite. With minimalist effects shots only suggesting what the monsters are coming for a snack, this short entitled “Good Evening” by Calvin Main makes for a light but wicked little treat.
Another familiar short is next called “The Dweller.” This one features a young woman returning home from work to find that she has an infestation of sorts as there are bites out of all of her food and worms writhing around everywhere. As the infestation intensifies, she is shocked to find…something unnatural in her cupboard. This one is short and sweet. It has its moments of nice suspense, but it wasn’t one of my faves.
“Howl of a Good Time” from short filmmaking master Patrick Rea is a comical little jaunt into movie theater horror. A little girl and her twin littler sisters are trying to get into a secret showing of a monster movie. But when one of them sneaks in, she finds much more than she bargained for. While this one was light and fluffy, I enjoyed the break from all of the more serious shorts that this one provided.
The horror of little girls selling cookies is one suburbia used to know all about. Now, it’s just parents taking their kid’s order sheet to work and guilting co-workers to buy them. In “Get Off My Porch,” another one by Patrick Rea, this age-old tradition of door to door cookie sales is revitalized in a darkly comedic take on pod people, aliens, and cookies. With very little effects, this one amps the paranoia while tickling your funny bone.
“The Sneak” by Calvin Main might not make a lot of sense, but it still makes for a white knuckle experience. Utilizing a hand help POV technique, this found footager follows a guy home from his date to find the door to his apartment open. While it doesn’t make a lot of sense, the story does have one hell of a jump scare that worked its evil on me.
The whole anthology starts with a short called “Bedroom Window” also directed by Calvin Main, that plays with the monster under the bed scare that all kids have. This one, instead, comes from a third floor window and proves to be another found footage fun one as parents watch in horror what crawls into their child’s bedroom late, late at night.
MONSTER KILLERS seems to be whittled together with shorts from other anthologies I’ve seen with a few new ones tossed in to keep it fresh. I didn’t love all of them, but there are a few diabolical low budget terrors to be had. Not the best anthology of this sort, but I found quite a few of them to work on me.