No Such Thing As Monsters


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

No Such Thing As Monsters
"Some of the acting is truly abysmal; the dialogue is clunky; the plot, though slight, still strains credulity; and there's virtually no character development."

Mary (Angel Giuffria) really doesn't want to go on a caravanning holiday. Many viewers will relate. It's a small caravan, it'll probably rain and then there will be nothing to do but play Scrabble with half the letters missing, with panic setting in as the tea bags begin to run out. For Mary there's more, however, because she's seriously claustrophobic. We get the impression that this is related to violence she's experienced in the past. Her partner David (Matthew Clarke) is determined to cure her, however, so off they go - but promise of tensions between them turning into something interesting quickly evaporates as events keep them apart for most of the remainder of the film.

It all begins to go (more) wrong when the quiet woodland campsite where they've parked the caravan is invaded by a noisy extended family group, mostly comprising of young women. though they seem friendly at first, and apologise for the inconvenience, it soon becomes clear that something is amiss. They keep managing to separate the couple and one of them persistently hits on David. When they decide to take him prisoner, Mary is forced to cooperate, afraid of what will happen to him otherwise. Her only hope of resolving the situation lies in Amy (Georgia Crisfield Smith), a shy young woman with a skin condition who wears a mask and doll-like clothes and communicates only through a doll.

There's an interesting idea in reversing the genders in a familiar horror scenario. David doesn't even think about the fact he's mostly naked when opening the door to strangers. A scene in which he's led away into an isolated place by one of the women would prompt concern if played the other way round, but it's only towards the end of it that we get little hints of his vulnerability. Giuffria, though leaden in places, works hard in others to explore the psychological effect of knowing a loved one is being sexually violated in a way that males characters of that type are generally not allowed to, beyond expressing rage.

The film also takes an interesting approach to disability. Mary is an amputee who uses an artificial arm, but this is never allowed to define her character. Her phobia is a far bigger deal. It's also this that seems to influence her attitude to Amy, who would usually be presented as dangerous in a horror film but who is treated quite sympathetically.

Beyond this, however, the film has very little to offer. Some of the acting is truly abysmal; the dialogue is clunky; the plot, though slight, still strains credulity; and there's virtually no character development. Despite what's being done with the gender reversal, the objectification of David remains problematic - we never see anything of his psychological journey. Assorted popular horror themes have been thrown into the story, apparently in the hope that one of them will stick, but the result is a mess which becomes increasingly incoherent over time. By comparison with watching this, being stuck in a caravan in the rain starts to seem like a fulfilling experience.

Reviewed on: 01 Nov 2020
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No Such Thing As Monsters packshot
A young couple on a romantic weekend in the Australian bush are terrorised by a psychopathic family.

Director: Stuart Stanton

Writer: Karen Elgar, Stuart Stanton

Starring: Angel Giuffria, Matthew Clarke, Georgia Crisfield Smith, Jacob Fyfe, Rebecca Fortuna, Michaela Pascoe

Year: 2019

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: Australia


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