Your Monster (2024)

Your Monster Review

Your Monster

If Ann Landers was correct and holding onto resentment is like letting your enemy live rent-free in your head, then “Your Monster” is what happens when you open the door for them. Caroline Lindy’s film is a clunky metaphor wrapped in a movie, where a young actress named Laura Franco (Melissa Barrera of “In the Heights”) has her Broadway dreams derailed by cancer only to find an inner strength via the monstrous creature lurking in her childhood home.

The monster (Tommy Dewey), made up to suggest a cross between a goat-bearded New York hipster and Ron Perlman as “Beauty and the Beast’s” leonine lothario Vincent, is initially Laura’s curmudgeonly roommate, later her potential paramour and ultimately a manifestation of her long-suppressed rage. The symbolism isn’t exactly subtle as she learns to break free from her polite good-girl upbringing and embrace those roiling emotions.

“Your Monster,” set in the histrionic world of musical theater, is not your average scary movie just as its conceptual siblings “Colossal” or “A Monster Calls” before it were not. Blood eventually spills but only enough to justify Sundance programming Lindy’s genre-bending backstage dramedy as a midnight offering. At various points the script openly acknowledges the kind of cinematic impact it aims to achieve; at one such moment Laura watches Stanley Donen’s “Royal Wedding,” crying as she always does at this point in movies like these. But Lindy’s project plays less like a new-classic romance than like some kind of score-settling grudge match.

Lindy was dumped by an insensitive boyfriend while being treated for a suspicious tumor what kind of jerk abandons someone under those circumstances? but Barrera’s pouty, entitled turn makes us think maybe he had the right idea. We can all agree that breaking up with Laura must have sucked, but it’s going to take more than a tragedy to make us care about this entitled drama queen.

In a flashback we see the moment when Jacob promised Laura the lead in “The House of Good Women,” the musical she helped him develop. But what evidence does Lindy give that her character belongs on Broadway? If Barrera’s cringe-inducing performance is any indication of Laura’s talent, this person should never go near a professional stage.

Too often Lindy relies on hammy montages (with more sweater changes than a “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” marathon) where well-written scenes would have revealed far more. So we get Laura crying and eating pastries when she comes home from the hospital, or cute moments of her and the monster fighting over the thermostat during their short-lived cohabitation agreement. She treats “Your Monster” as if were a high-concept sitcom pilot but fails to deliver the necessary laughs.

Laura, against her better judgement, psychs herself up to audition for Jacob’s musical at the monster’s insistence. It goes badly no wonder, when her ex is sitting there looking pathetic, a popular star (Meghann Fahy) is poised to steal her part and one of the decision-makers chooses that moment to eat his lunch which makes it all the more likely that the star will break a leg or something and pave the way for Laura to shine as an understudy. “Your Monster” may have a unique premise, but it’s frustratingly obvious as its furious heroine works up the nerve to unleash her id (which is a lot less fun as a grouch in your head than if you could turn into something else entirely, like in “Cat People” or “Ginger Snaps”).

At one point she’s invited along with Jacob and some members of the cast to a masquerade party on Halloween; this would allow her to take her monster out of the house under cover that he’s actually in costume. I suspect young audiences might find Dewey’s adorable-ogre shtick funnier than I did this hirsute creature (who presumably has been pent up in Laura’s house/subconscious till now) surprises with his millennial lingo and knowledge of neighborhood hot spots.

The stock joke with imaginary-friend movies is that these characters are disconnected and out-of-touch with reality; but in this movie, the monster under Laura’s bed speaks like an adolescent girl even more so than best (and only) friend Mazie (Kayla Foster), who brings an irreverent Kate Berlant-like energy to bear as the only other character who seems to care about Laura. Mopey throughout and ending too late for its opportunity, “Your Monster” rates as an occasionally entertaining low-budget pity party. Let Laura cry it just won’t be you.

Watch Your Monster For Free On Gomovies.

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