Synopsis: A successful social media prankster and his fiancée find their idyllic countryside weekend escape turn into the ultimate video prank where the stakes are life and death being broadcast onto the dark web.
Stars: Tim Loden, Alana Elmer, Jonathan Craig, Jarrett Siddall, Peter Higginson
Directors: Justin Harding & Rob Brunner
Running Length: 85 minutes
TMMM Score: (5/10)
Review: First impressions are often telling and with a film like Making Monsters, you pretty much know the film you’re in for within the opening five minutes. It’s in this short amount of time you get nudity, bloodshed, gore, annoying characters, questionable acting, and shaky production values. It’s almost as if writer/director Justin Harding and his co-director Rob Brunner wanted to lay their cards out on the table at the beginning and say to anyone watching, “This is what we’re doing tonight. You either like it and stick around or find something else to watch.” I respect that approach and even if I hadn’t agreed to review this low-budget horror film that’s made its way around the specialty festival circuit over the past two years, I likely would have taken the duo up on their offer to see more.
Thanks to Facebook, I’ve somehow gotten myself subscribed to those heinous prank videos where some dopey guy (usually one you find out does extensive print modeling to really pay his bills) or group of guys play practical jokes on each other. We’re not talking bucket on top of a door kind of jokes, we’re talking dumping pee on you and your significant other while you’re sleeping, filming it, and then running away laughing hysterically. These videos are becoming increasingly popular, so the pranks are getting far more outlandish – most are elaborately set-up and often everyone is in on the joke but there are times when the reaction is very real.
One such YouTube prank star is Christian Brand (Tim Loden), and he’s made a name for himself scaring the beejebus out of his ever-understanding girlfriend, now fiancée, Allison (Alana Elmer). They’re getting ready to settle down and start a family and Allison has one request – no pranking her while they’re trying to get pregnant. Trouble is, Brand is afraid that Allison is his good luck charm and if she’s not part of his scare show then his ratings will sink. That’s a discussion for a different day because the couple has been invited by a friend to his new home in the country, a renovated church that will be the perfect getaway to start the baby making process.
Arriving at the nicely furnished home, their friend isn’t back from a business trip but his partner David (Jonathan Craig) is happy to play host until he’s back. The couple is wary of the eccentric David at first but loosen up once they get to know him for the artist he is. A night of partying and chemically enhanced reverie commences, sending the trio into a tailspin of visions and creepy frights. The next time they wake up, the number of guests has dwindled, it’s several days later, and a terrifying masked killer is hunting them down. Is it all an elaborate prank or is there another sinister activity taking place that weekend?
While it’s no future undiscovered classic, there’s enough interesting things going on around Making Monsters (either front and center or in the periphery) that throughout the tight run time one hardly has the chance to get too involved/distracted by their phone. The small cast and simple location allow the production to get creative with practical special effects, a number of which are quite effective. Though it eventually bites off more than it can gnash its gnarly teeth on (oh the subplots!), when it stays focused on one line of thinking it works better than it should. And yet it’s so cruelly violent and grotesque that at the same time you can’t help walking away with the ravages of depression taking tiny bites at the edges of your good nature.