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Bizarre review: Christina Ricci launches a Twilight Zone-style thriller

Christina Ricci is one of those actors who had both the luck and the misfortune of being cast in an iconic role at such a young age. When she was twelve years old in the early 90s, she played Saturday Addams in The Addams . family and its sequel, and the role that haunts her. In the public imagination, she will always be a pale, creepy child, at the same time sinister and lovable, with an air of Victorian spooky air. It didn’t help that she still looked feminine in her 40s, with her tiny bird-like face; big and wide eyes; and the precise, button-down demeanor of a person who must have aged ahead of her time.

While her contemporary Kirsten Dunst showcases her ethereal style in Interview with Vampire As the lead roles in blockbusters and critically acclaimed, Ricci became famous and faded from view, no different from Winona Ryder a decade earlier. It turns out that the solution is not against typing, but leaning into it. With a dramatic transformation as Misty, a socially joyful loner in the groundbreaking 2021 series Yellow jacket, Ricci finally exorcised Addams on Wednesday by summoning a new demon child to take her place. Misty trades for Ricci’s image but is entirely within her control, and she ranks among the unexpected comedies, pathos, and malice. In the end, it was enough to change the way people thought about Ricci and her career.

This is a good time for Ricci to take on a lead role. She possesses every minute of her humble creature trait Monstrous, a 1950s chiller with a cunning secret. She plays Laura, a bright and cute mother of 7-year-old Cody (Santino Barnard). The two are settling into a new life in a rented house in California in 1955. Cody is quiet but not moody, while Laura is upbeat. Apparently they were running away from a terrible situation. Cody wants to go home, but Laura refuses. Cody says he’ll forgive his father for whatever horror he’s done, but Laura won’t.

Laura is determined to go ahead with building a peaceful little town for them, enroll Cody in school, and find a job as a typist. But Cody is being watched by something terrible pulling her out of a lake near her home. Regardless of the monster, its aspect is constantly changing: sometimes liquid and oily, sometimes like bone, sometimes billowing like a mass of duckweed or rotten cloth. That’s the spooky thing. After a terrifying encounter, Cody is suddenly pulled to the lake rather than pushed back by it. He said the “beautiful woman” wanted him to join her there. That’s when Laura’s world began to fall apart.

Like the amazing UFO movie of 2020 The Vast of Night, Monstrous talking about 1950s pulp fiction, Twilight Zone chills, and a mixture of fear and lust inspired by something foreign and unknown emerges on the smooth surface of a closed, orderly society. But where the film tells simply with a bold, vibrant big-screen style, MonstrousDirected by Chris Sivertson and written by Carol Chrest, offers a straightforward approach to the documentary that has much going on under the surface.

Two characters walking in the lake under the moonlight

Image: Screen Media

Maybe too straight. There’s something paradoxical and inert about the world the film builds: the shimmering chrome of Laura’s turquoise station wagon, the crisp hemline of her A-line skirt, The needlework of The Chordettes ‘“Mr. Sand Man. “There’s not a single note out of place in a tune we’ve heard a thousand times before. The dialogue feels constrained and lifeless, hardly more than functional, and Ricci tries to counter it uncomfortably, pushing her performance into disrepute. The film only comes to life for a few fleeting moments: in Laura’s strangely challenging encounter with the landlord and his questionable wife (Don Baldaramos and Colleen Camp); in a long, silent shot of another boy running away from Cody in the playground; and in the appearance of the monster, a multifaceted creation is all the more disturbing because it is so difficult to record in the mind’s eye.

As it turns out, some of these choices may be intentional. Monstrous being ended at a point in the story wouldn’t have worked so well if everything before that hadn’t been so intentional and understandable. Late movie selection works, but can come too late to redeem what came first. If Chrest and Sivertson invested less in planning this turning point and more in creating the world and the characters that built it – or, for that matter, in handling it in a way delicate and convincing the implications of its ending – Monstrous would be a more satisfying movie overall.

What? Monstrous Still, the final offers a chance to watch Christina Ricci drop the elaborate artwork and ferocious control of so many of her performances and give us something raw. and unfiltered. For a moment we can see last Wednesday, Misty, and even Laura Monstrous we tracked down and found the security hole below the surface. It’s a moment of truth from an actress who is often asked to play the part of our prejudices about her, and it’s a welcome fact in a strangely secluded little movie.

Monstrous in limited theatrical release and available to rent or buy on Amazon, Vuduand other digital platforms.

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