A one shot take that follows 9 year old Miah’s imaginative fever dream, as she tries to destroy the monster that her parents’ unknowingly created.
A while back, I reviewed a short film from director Christiano Dias called “King Eternal”, a story about a young boy who uses his imagination to deal with his parents’ divorce. It was a wonderful movie which utilized a lot of humor because as we all know, laughter is the best medicine for any given situation. With “Monster in a House”, Mr. Dias returns with yet another triumphant inclusion in his movie resume which would put most big-budget spectacles to shame. This time out, a young girl, Miah (Kitana Turnbull), has the full attention of both her parents, Joe and Emma (Joseph Bottoms & Lisa Roumain), as she is sketching decidedly dark and sinister drawings.
Both Joe and Emma initially appear to be in a dispassionate relationship as they argue and fight on a regular basis. This particular night however, after having told her father about the monster lurking in the shadows in her room, he declares that there is no such thing as monsters and leaves. Shortly after witnessing them argue again, Miah makes her way downstairs where magically, her kitchen and living room have been transformed into a storybook fantasy environment, complete with beautiful luscious flowers and plant life, an enchanted eco system and of course, one large, frightful creature, which we never actually see but most certainly hear.
After the beast has trapped Miah in the garage, she lets out a deafening scream which promptly attracts her parents’ attention and after having saved her from the supernatural entity, Joe stands up and screams at it to leave and it does so, instantaneously. As the threesome sit on the floor holding each other, the parents slowly comprehend that while there was indeed a monster creeping around in Miah’s head, it was them, and their perpetual quarrels, that summoned it and the worse their disagreements became, the more frightening Miah’s imagination increased.
Most of the film was shot using a steadicam, a camera stabilizer mount for motion picture cameras that allows for a smooth shot, even when moving quickly over an uneven surface. John Carpenter was one of the first filmmakers to employ this particular technique in his horror classic “Halloween”, a practice that is now common in almost every movie produced today and it allows the story to move forward without cutting away. In “Monster in a House”, cinematographer Michael Helenek adopts this approach very successfully and the movie glides smoothly from one scene to the next.
What’s so amazing about this film is that with a runtime of just 14 minutes, director Christiano Dias displays his own individualistic style which elicits an atmosphere that I have not experienced since the heyday of Spielberg (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, “E.T.”) and John Carpenter (“Halloween”, “The Fog”). It also evokes an environment comparable to the 1982 classic “Poltergeist.”
It beautifully draws upon the parallels of the children who most certainly feel that there is an otherworldly presence around them while the adults are clueless to what’s going on. The cast herein do well with their respective roles and when the movie ended, I wanted more. Mr. Dias continues to prove that he has the proficiency and expertise capable of tackling any genre and in today’s movie climate where most filmmakers are pigeon-holed into one particular category, that is a welcome relief. Roll on his next movie.
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