A Creature Was Stirring is another fine addition to this year’s slew of holiday horror releases, including, but not limited to, Eli Roth’s Thanksgiving, It’s a Wonderful Knife, The Sacrifice Game, among others. A Create Was Stirring stands out because of its practical effects. It’s one gnarly Christmas creature feature with a memorable monster at its core and a solid cast, including scream queen Scout Taylor-Compton.
Directed by Damien LeVeck (The Cleansing Hour), with a script by Shannon Wells, A Creature Was Stirring focuses on a teenage character named Charm (Annalise Basso). It turns out that Charm transforms into a pretty wicked monster. Her nurse mother, Faith (Chrissy Metz), does her best to keep her daughter’s monstrous impulses and transformations under control. When a nasty and life-threatening snowstorm hits, the monster refuses to be contained.
Other than the mother/daughter narrative, A Creature Was Stirring involves another plot, a home invasion of sorts. Taylor-Compton’s Liz and Connor Paolo’s Kory bust into the home. The reasons why only become clear later, but both characters are Jesus freaks, and Liz especially believes that she can tame the monster, or perhaps exorcise it from Charm’s body. She even wields a stone cross to do the deed.
A Creature Was Stirring has far more positives than negatives, from its nearly single location setting that creates a claustrophobic feel, to the constant wintery blue tones, to the performances. There’s plenty to enjoy here. Basso especially does a stellar job playing a teenager who, to some extent, does her best to grapple with the monster lurking within. Metz plays an overprotective mom who locks her daughter away just as the monster roars to life. I’m a fan of Rob Zombie’s Halloween remakes, so I enjoy seeing Taylor-Compton in any horror feature. Her role as a religious fanatic pushes this feature to another level and adds a dash of black humor and depth.
All of that said, it’s the monster here that steals the show, and what a creature it is. Simply put, the monster looks really cool. It snarls, turns into a ball with a spikey back, and ascends to a massive and intimidating height. LeVeck often films only parts of it, making it all the more chilling, be it a shot of its throat-slicing nails, or its razor-sharp teeth. The practical effects team deserves heaps of accolades. There’s one transformation scene near the halfway point that’s one of the best I’ve seen in a while. It’s a jaw-dropping moment.
This film also benefits from the fact that its premise is kept fairly simple. It’s anchored by the monster, but also the mother/daughter relationship. It slightly veers off track in about the last 10 minutes when it tries to explain everything through a sudden twist. The film might have been better served without that sudden turn. That said, as a whole, this movie is an entertaining yuletide fright and one I’ll likely rewatch in future years. From its blizzard setting to its blood-curdling monster, this is one holly, jolly creature feature.
A Creature Was Stirring will play in select theaters on December 8 before hitting VOD on December 12.