As you already know, when it comes to movies I trust Filmvetter more than anyone else in the world. However, his scathing criticism of Will Larroca's debut film The Monster makes me question this loyalty. In other words, it makes me think Filmvetter doesn't know what the hell he's talking about.
Look, FV is no spring chicken, so maybe he's not "getting" the next generation's sensibilities when it comes to cinema. FV wants everything big and splashy and produced like The Godfather. Larroca looks at a movie like The Godfather and seemingly says "hey, anyone can make a movie with an amazing script, character development and an unparalleled cast - Imma do MY thing!" Larroca's chops are a direct descendant of the great Bob Uecker quote: "Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit." Larroca's not worried about the past. Or the future. He's only concerned with being in the now, and there's nothing in the movie that indicates he's particularly worried about that either. FV wants slickly-made movies he can put labels on. Larroca wants to make art. Call me Team Larroca. The Monster is a fantastic debut.
Filmvetter takes some time to point out what he doesn't like about the film. Important things, such as the particular college hoodie a character chooses to wear. Yes, of course, if only Howard the Duck had worn a Cornell sweatshirt. Very important. Thank you, Filmvetter.
But of course he doesn't point out what's GREAT about Larroca's film. For instance, right out the gate we have the credits, which Larroca has been savvy enough to drag out for about 30 seconds of the 5 minute movie. This is the equivalent of the classic double-spaced, extended block quotes from college term papers. I guess FV doesn't remember college - or, as he calls it, "romping with my school chums in the fens and spinneys." Hey FV, have some buttered noodles & Sanka and hit the hay already, the sun's almost going down. I once wrote the word "very" 11 times in a row in a sentence on a term paper to get to another line. FV wants a big, splashy intro to get right to the movie, with no built-in suspension or anticipation. And yet Larroca makes us white-knuckle it throughout the long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long, long opening credits. Hey, you know what this is called? FILM-MAKING. Heard of it? FV apparently hasn't.
Larroca is fearless throughout the film, be it from being shown using a Batman pillow case at his age, or casting an actor named "Zeb" with a straight face. This guy just isn't going to play by your rules. The glasses, for example: the shades say "I'm cooler than you"; them being blue says "I'm not even aware I'm being filmed, that's how cool I am." You want Inside the Actor's Studio then go to NYC, bore you very much.You want a movie with guts? It's called The Monster. You're welcome.
FV also misses what's almost the entire point of the film, the obvious product placement via Coca-Cola. I guess FV wishes we were back in the olden times when studio actors got extra pay by appearing on Burma Shave billboards and Uncle Yuck's Comedy Yuck-Yuck Hour of Yucks. Meanwhile, Larocca has obviously studied the history of film as far back as the Wilson/Vaughn vehicle The Internship, and knows that product placement is as important a part of the movie as anything else. Hey, is Charles Ramsay paying for another Big Mac the rest of his life? Hell no. Now, am I saying that taking the lead when it comes to product placement in film makes Will Larroca a hero along the lines of someone who saves girls who have spent years chained up in the basement? Yes.
The ONE thing FV got right is how scary the villain is. I mean, I'm sleeping with the lights on tonight, people. Looking through the door at him appearing/disappearing, an obvious homage to Halloween, made the eyes roll into the back of my head and I fainted. This guy has a chilling laugh about him that says "Yes I'm going to hack you to pieces, but why the long face?" This kid is the find of the decade, and guess who found him? Will Larroca. FV probably would've pushed for Ben Affleck.
The Monster is a movie you'll be thinking of minutes after watching for the first time. For example, where did Larroca find so much ceiling tile and wood paneling? Did he actually go back in time - is he THAT talented, THAT devoted to attention to detail?
I'm sorry FV didn't get any of the sensibilities of this debut film from a young auteur. I'm sure he'll be kerfuffled by Larroca's next masterpiece ("how are people talking on the phone without dialing??!?! Whaaaaaaat?!!!"), which I understand is in the works, and which I can't wait to get my eyeballs on. Meanwhile, sadly, maybe it's time for Filmvetter to hang up his Brother 3200C Word Processor once and for all. If you don't "get" The Monster, then be prepared to be left behind in Larroca's wake.
And you better hope he doesn't leave that freaking Zeb guy in the woods with you when it happens. BOO!