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NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS (2019)
Directed by Stuart Stanton
Written by Karen Elgar, Stuart Stanton
Starring Angel Giuffria, Georgia Crisfield Smith, Matthew Clarke, Jacob Fyfe, Michaela Pascoe, Rebecca Fortuna, David Macrae, Rochelle Pranadi
Mary (Angel Giuffria) and David (Matthew Clarke) are a happy couple on a trip to the Australian countryside. Though Mary doesn’t like to travel and small spaces, she agrees to rent a camper and go see the sights. They find a secluded area and settle in, but their peace is disrupted when a group of campers arrive close to their camp. Trying to be happy campers, Mary and David accept the campers as neighbors, but don’t know that this family of oddballs are quite loony and deadly.
NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS is another TEXAS CHAINSAW MASACRE knock-off. It isn’t a family of cannibals that Mary and David happen across, but they’re still homicidal lunatics. Filmmaker Stuart Stanton and his co-writer Karen Elgar try to make each of these members interesting, but only succeed with one or two of them. Amy (Georgia Crisfield Smith) is the youngest of the siblings, suffering from a skin disorder and covered from head to toe in clothing. She looks like a living ragdoll and is definitely one of the more disturbing aspects of NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS. Had the film focused on Amy, maybe given her more of a stronger presence as the leader of the group or something like that, I think it would have been much more interesting. But Amy serves as the Leatherface of the group—rather simple minded and child-like, who lashes out like a toddler when crossed. The rest of the psycho family is less developed and extremely less interesting. There’s the nympho gal who simply wants to screw everything all of the time, the simple brother whose most interesting aspect is his douchebag moustache, and the oldest sister who bullies everyone around. When the family takes Mary and David hostage, I was hoping there would be a point to all of this mayhem, but that point doesn’t even come to light until close to the hour mark. And then it is revealed, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Besides the design of Amy, the best part about NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS is spunky actress Angel Gruffria. Her interactions with her boyfriend David are sincere, real, and often quite funny. She has a wonderful personality and is able to kick ass like the best of them when the chips are down and she needs to fight for her man. Gruffria has only one arm and wears a mechanical hand on the other. This aspect is never really paid attention to and I love it that it doesn’t become a major plot point or anything. Gruffria’s Mary is tough despite her disability and this film really should be commended for not making a major deal and normalizing this aspect rather than highlighting it.
NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS meanders around pointlessly for the middle 45 minutes. Because Mary and David are the prisoners of this weird family for nine plus months, it makes for some tedious and repetitious scenes until we finally get to the violent climax. I wish there had been more meat in the middle of this one, but it feels like the filmmakers had a decent beginning and ending all written, but nothing much connecting the two. This makes for a movie that felt longer than it actually was. The odd goals of the family that isn’t explained or elaborated on makes for a bizarre film that feels like it wants to be a sleazy grindhouse film from the 70’s but lacks the grit or imagination to fill it’s runtime. NO SUCH THING AS MONSTERS isn’t without merit. The character of Amy and Gruffria’s ballsy performance are standouts. But there’s not a lot much else to take notice to, unfortunately. Another pass at the script, filling in the lulls with interesting details and maybe a bit of explanation would have helped this one immensely.