Very rarely do I come across a found footage movie that I enjoy. There are exceptions to this and I’m always thrilled to find them and, the most recent one that I’ve welcomed into my life has been The Monster Project. The film has been on my radar for a few months now courtesy of the Instagram page that has been sharing a stream of photos and clips to keep potential fans stoked for the release. Well, the wait is finally over and I have to say that I was not disappointed. Devon and Jamal are friends who produce grainy, found footage style horror clips on Youtube to generate a little cash as they work on other projects. But Devon is getting tired of making hoaxes and decides he wants to do the real thing. Putting an ad on Craigslist looking for real monsters and, presumably, sifting through a shit ton of lunatics and dick pics, he comes across three very interesting replies. The first is a Navajo Tribal Police Officer who claims to be a skinwalker, the Native American equivalent of the werewolf. Next is a young girl named Shiori who is possessed by the Bad Man, a demon who has promised to leave her alone if she’ll only talk to the filmmakers. The final is a young woman named Shayla who claims to be a vampire but will only speak on the condition that the minds behind The Monster Project provide her with a little snack. Employing Murielle, Devon’s director ex-girlfriend, and an acquaintance named Brian who is, himself, dealing with his own demons, the four set off to make their documentary come to life. Renting the epitome of creepy, stay the hell out of their houses, they prepare for a night that none of them will forget -or survive. I was impressed by both the production value and the quality of the acting, directing, and screenwriting that went into The Monster Project. Normally, found footage films are pretty much fly by the seat of your pants, retroscripted or completely unscripted amateur romps with a GoPro or handheld camcorder with shaky, completely indiscernible images of monsters or killers thrown in here or there. This, however, was genuinely shot like some semi-pros trying to do a bizarre documentary and it worked well. While there was very little that was actually frightening to me, the monsters themselves and the interactions between the characters made the movie entertaining and, at points, suspenseful. I’m actually torn between which of the monsters earned the most respect from me during the 95 minute run time. Was it the skinwalker Steven who seemed a little too eager to get on camera? Shiori, the shy, stereotypical Japanese school girl possessed by a demonic force? Shayla, the tatted up vampire vixen playing to the camera and the crew for her own amusement? Or was it Brian, the recovering drug addict being tormented by the ghosts of the people he inadvertently killed when he sold them a bad batch of heroin in a moment that felt all too real? The makeup and effects were excellent and my favorite part had to be the transition of Steven from Navajo cop to bloodthirsty skinwalker. A combination of practical effects and CGI made the fleshy, uncomfortable process seem all the more real as his bones broke and reshaped themselves into this being that wasn’t quite a canine but was about as far from human as possible. It was one of the more menacing seeming creatures in the film. The vampire was much less high concept and there was something wonderful about the simplicity of the creature. It behaved more like a desperate tweeker than nocturnal murder machine as it wildly and relentlessly attacked its prey through the dilapidated house. Shiori the demon girl offered little new to the notion of a possessed schoolgirl and, honestly, could have been a lot more creepy had she not done the predictable, back to the camera hiding that she did through the film. It was still exciting to see her go all Evil Dead and fly up into the rafters as the shit hit the fan, though. The Monster Project is a fantastic premise and well executed even if it lacks that certain edge of your seat suspense. The story pacing is great and doesn’t leave you bogged down in a lot of unnecessary dialogue while the character development, especially for a found footage movie, is stellar. You actually get a chance to know the characters, to feel connected to them before they find themselves in harm’s way and anyone who has watched a movie in the last 20 years can tell you that this is a rare treat in nearly any genre. There is an entertaining twist towards the end of the film that, honestly, could have been a bit better developed. There’s also a jump scare in this final act that nearly undermines everything the storytelling has done up until that point. As far as found footage/documentary style monster movies go, however, it’s definitely a gem. I’d watch it again which is saying something given my overall disdain for the style. The Monster Project is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and streaming services and it’s definitely worth checking out. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.