Irish Film Institute -Monster Film Review

Monster Film Review

This review contains spoilers for Monster (2023). It was written by Transition Year student, Mischa, in March 2024.

Monster is a film that makes you question everything. From a twitch of a head to a hop of a knee, every element of this film leaves you guessing and hoping that you have found the answer. Every time you believe you’re close to it though, something suddenly pops into view that changes absolutely everything. The film follows three perspectives or “Acts,” the first being Saori, a single mother of Minato, second being Mr. Hori, Minato’s teacher, and third being Minato himself. The film leads you through a series of scenarios from these different perspectives, and each perspective drastically changes your view on everything, leaving you with one final thought, nothing is ever as it first seems.

Theres a recurring theme throughout the film that altars the path that the story takes, and that is silence. You find as you follow the story, the withholding of information and silence causes many if not most of the conflicts of the storyline to sprout. For example, the silence of Saori as she withholds vital information about her late husband from her son, creating a lack of trust between them. This lack of trust is the fuel that starts the fire of everything that follows. The allegations against Mr. Hori, in which he is forced to stay silent, and the mistreatment of Yori, in which he stays silent due to the knowledge that nothing good can come of it. When he speaks up about his father’s abuse, it breaks a pattern, and all of the truths start to unfurl.

Something that truly makes this film memorable is how immersive the experience of watching it is. The lack of dramatic irony is the binder that brings all the acts together. The viewer watches the film, always knowing just as much as all the characters. I speculated throughout about Minato’s true motive, just as his mother Saori did. I became angry at the school system with her, wondering why they were being so nonchalant. While that goes on however, you have no idea who to believe. When Act 2 begins, you start questioning everything that the film has told you. Everything is shown, and nothing is told, causing us to spark our own conclusions from minor clues that have been given. We become as paranoid as all the characters in their specific situations, because of the masterful subconscious stereotypes that this film does its best to combat.

In our eyes, Mr. Hori is a monster. Once we realize his side of the story, he is no longer a monster but a man who deserves better from the justice system. To him, Minato is the monster that caused all of this to spark. And to Minato, Yori begins to become a monster as he makes Minato question all the facts that he thought he knew. He makes him angry, because of how much he cares, and knows if he didn’t, things would be a lot easier for him. But gradually he grows to love the boy as we watch their connection grow. The ending of this film was perfect. No closure, no reassurance, just the imagination and a test of positivity for the viewer.

The IFI is supported
by The Arts Council

Arts Council of Ireland