Christina Ricci’s performance anything but “Monstrous” in new film

Monstrous - Courtesy Screen Media
Monstrous - Courtesy Screen Media /

Chris Sivertson’s Monstrous can be described as a genre-mash, with horror icon Christina Ricci at the nexus of an atmospheric, slow-burn horror narrative that ends on a poignant note. There are merits to Monstrous worth consideration, although some elements of the film, especially in the last third, might fall flat for viewers expecting a heightened, dramatic finish.

Monstrous opens with Ricci’s Laura, who takes her son Cody (Santino Barnard) to suburban America with hopes of a fresh start after an unexplained traumatic event with her ex-husband. Right off the bat, the color palette of the film pops out and grabs the viewer’s attention: this is 1950s’ America, as evidenced by Laura’s preppy wardrobe, the pop culture references of the time period, be it in the form of songs or television shows, and the immaculate set designs that adorn Laura’s immediate surroundings.

Monstrous Courtesy Screen Media /

However, despite this seemingly picture-perfect aura, something seems horribly amiss, like a sense of deep-seated unease that grips the mind out of the blue.

As the plot develops, it becomes evident that Laura is running away from something in her past, part of which is explained via intrusive phone calls from her ex, who is hinted to have been abusive towards her and Cody. However, Cody remembers the incidents in a slightly different manner:  he does not understand why they have moved to the suburbs, the reasons behind their separation from his father, and why Laura is so overly-protective of Cody in all instances. On the other hand, Laura struggles to find her footing in an overwhelmingly patriarchal society, where she is silently (and sometimes, overtly) judged for being an independent, single mother.

Monstrous is elevated by Ricci’s performance and is a solid watch despite its flaws.

The creature in Monstrous is a product of an amalgamation of horror tales surrounding the lady of the lake trope, but this overused theme has been executed with great skill, especially in the second half of the film. There’s an element of tense anxiety in these sequences, and while it is nothing we have not seen before, the stylistic and pacing aspects of the creature sequences definitely work in favor of the film.

Monstrous – Courtesy Screen Media /

Both Ricci and Barnard play their respective parts with conviction, but it is Ricci who makes the film’s disparate elements work, despite an underwhelming resolution. Thematically, Monstrous assimilates a wide range of genres, which is an ambitious attempt, but the execution of the same falls a tad bit flat by the end. Nevertheless, Monstrous is an enjoyable watch, especially for Christina Ricci fans, as it is ultimately a tale about grief, the lull of the past, and the dangers associated with holding on too tight.

Monstrous premiered at Glasgow FrightFest and is available in theaters and on-demand on May 13, 2022, courtesy of Screen Media. I highly recommend Monstrous purely for its atmospheric and psychological thriller aspects, so go check it out!

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What did you think about Christina Ricci’s performance in Monstrous? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.