Three days before Cloverfield arrived in theaters and launched the current found footage craze, The Asylum released their own found footage movie with the simply titled, Monster.
No notable stars in this one?: Nope, which kind of goes along with how found footage movies usually go. It would probably break the illusion of being “real” if you had Casper Van Dien or C. Thomas Howell or Ian Zeiring running around Tokyo. The stars are Sarah Lieving and Erin Sullivan, both of which I believe are Asylum vets.
So why are these two American girls in Japan?: The initial setup is that Sarah and Erin Lynch, sisters, are heading to Tokyo to make a documentary about global warming (It should be noted that this is supposed to have happened in 2003). Interviewing the Minster of the Environment, an earthquake rocks the city and the girls head to the basement but more quakes happen and they realize there might be something else going on and flee onto the streets to try and get to the American embasssy.
That’s a surprisingly better setup than Cloverfield: Agreed, I would definitely rather watch the first 10 minutes of this movie than the incredibly annoying hipster party from Cloverfield that seems to go on for an hour. I’m just going to put this out there as well, Sarah and Erin are much more relatable and likeable than the rich, yuppie douchebags of Cloverfield (with the possible exception of TJ Miller). Instead of going off on some stupid quest to save an ex, Sarah and Erin are just trying to survive and get to the embassy, which is what you’d expect someone to do during a disaster.
So it’s better than Cloverfield? I think character wise, definitely and logical storywise, probably. The only area it’s lacking in is the “crazy shit happening” department, which Cloverfield definitely has more of, whether it’s the crazy lice in the subway or coming face to face with the creature or the big Statue of Liberty head getting thrown down the street.
The creature of Monsters is a vague mass of tentacles that may be some sort of mystical Japanese creature, but it’s never fully seen and never fully explained.
Will I vomit from the shaky cam in this one?: It’s pretty shaky but more than shaky cam, this movie uses tons of digital artifacting to show distortion and “damage” to the tape, and that gets kind of annoying. The tape cuts out a bunch of times as well, leaving you to only hear the audio, but at least that’s better than the “Our Day at Coney Island” footage that happened whenever the camera stopped in Cloverfield.
They actually went to Japan as well?: I’m pretty sure they did, only needing like 3 people to shoot the movie probably helped budget wise but it also raises the tensions because Sarah and Erin aren’t able to get any info from anybody because they don’t speak Japanese.
So it seems like somehow The Asylum lucked into decent movie?: I’ve definitely seen found footage movies that were way, way worse than this one *cough* Apollo 18 *cough* but the two main actresses are actually believable and you see enough of the creature to keep you interested. Cloverfield definitely has the edge special effects wise but the trade off is that most of the characters in that movie are awful. If you are a fan of the found footage genre, this is actually a decent one to check out if you are perusing Netflix.
Next Time: The Asylum gets Fast & Furious with Street Racer