‘A Monster Calls’ is Relentlessly Sad to the Point of Numbness

A Monster Calls

Fantasy can be a great outlet for the various forms of emotional strain that we’re forced to deal with throughout our lives. It can be especially helpful for children, providing a fantastical outlet for pent up emotions and providing context for these feelings. That’s the intent behind A Monster Calls, the latest film from director J.A. Bayona. For all of its good intentions in providing an emotional, fantasy-based examination of grief and sorrow, A Monster Calls is just too much sadness layered upon even more sadness until you reach a sad conclusion with nothing more than feeling of absolute emotional numbness.

Not much in the world makes sense for Conor (Lewis MacDougall). He has trouble sleeping at night due to recurring nightmares. He’s bullied at school. Worst of all, his mother (Felicity Jones) is battling cancer. The future is full of doubt for young Conor. There’s no certainty that he’ll be able to co-habitat with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and his father (Toby Kebbell) has remarried with new children and now lives in America. It seems that the only refuge the young man has is in the fantastical drawing that he sketches. One night at 12:07am, strange happenings start to take place at his home and a massive old tree rises from the earth and promises to visit Conor over the coming days. During the first three visits the monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) will regale the young boy with a story. On the fourth and final visit, it is up to Conor to tell the monster his story.

The biggest issue with A Monster Calls is the film’s tone, which is relentlessly sad. From the early frames until the closing credits, A Monster Calls stays with its somber tone only deviating slightly with moments of levity on extremely rare occasions. Adapting his own book, screenwriter Patrick Ness and director J.A. Bayona strike a mood that is so constant in its sadness that it becomes quite draining. As the film approaches its emotional crescendo, there’s almost nothing left to feel because the tragic tone of the film just wears you down to the point of numbness. The obvious aim for the conclusion of A Monster Calls is to get the waterworks flowing, but because the movie never shifts gears away from heartbreak none of the tragedy resonates.

The most impressive sequences of A Monster Calls are the stories that the monster tells young Conor. These fantastical tales unfold in spectacular animated sequences, watercolors splashing across the screen in vibrant color in medieval tales of morality. The rest of the film is sturdily constructed but these are the moments that standout from the pack of sadness that make up the majority of the film.

The performances of A Monster Calls are all solid, though nobody is really given a chance to standout beyond the sea of tears. Young Lewis MacDougall gives a strong performance in the emotionally draining role of Conor. The young actor is present in practically every scene and shows no signs of weakness as a thespian. Felicity Jones is modest in her role as the ailing mother, though her character’s illness quickly sidelines the actress for much of the film. As the grandmother, Sigourney Weaver does her best with an English accent and alternates between the stern matriarch and loving grandmother. And the booming Irish brogue of Liam Neeson gives a gravitas to the tales of the towering giant.

The story of A Monster Calls may be very difficult for those who’ve lost a loved one to cancer to sit through, and the film’s unrelenting tone will only make the movie even more of an emotional chore. It’s a competently made movie but one that is in desperate need of some levity and optimism amidst the strain of a child losing a parent. Fantasy can help people cope with tragedy as a form of escapism, employing metaphor as a means to explore touchy subjects. Sadly, A Monster Calls could use a lot more escapism to make its story resonate as intended.

Shop Deadpool tees in our officially licensed Marvel store!

Leave a Reply

Animation/Anime Interviews Animation/Anime News Animation/Anime Reviews Film/TV Interviews Film/TV News Film/TV Review
Dig Two Graves
‘Dig Two Graves’ is a Taut Revenge Thriller

The quest for vengeance has a way of consuming people. The...

Juliet Mills Avanti!
Juliet Mills Talks About the 45th Anniversary of Billy Wilder’s ‘Avanti!’

Billy Wilder is one of the great all-time filmmakers. Over the...

Smash: Motorized Mayhem
‘Smash: Motorized Mayhem’ is For Auto Racing Fans, and That’s It

The wheels on the bus go round and round in Smash:...

Enabled Gaming Gaming News Gaming Reviews
Call of the Wild Review
6.5/10
The Hunting Simulator – theHunter Call of the Wild Review [PC]

The closest and safest way you can get to hunting without...

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Launch Trailer
Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition Launch Trailer Launches a Storm of Bullets

Bullets fly and obscenities should be bleeped but aren’t in the...

New Frontier Episode 3 Release Date
Official The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series – A New Frontier Episode 3 Release Date

We finally have the official The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series –...

Comic Creator Interviews Comic/Graphic Novel News Comic/Graphic Novel Reviews Manga News Manga Reviews Novel/Novella Author Interviews Novel/Novella News Novel/Novella Reviews
Marvel’s ‘Generations’: Original Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man and more to return

On February 16, 2017, Marvel and ABC announced the coming of...

Boruto
VIZ Media is Bringing Boruto to North America on Blu-Ray and Manga

VIZ Media announces North American Home Media Release of Boruto: Naruto the...

An Interview w/ Cyanide & Happiness Co-Creator Dave McElfatrick

Since the mid-2000’s, the insanely popular web comic Cyanide & Happiness...

Apparel/Personal Maintenance News Apparel/Personal Maintenance Reviews Entertainment Product News Entertainment Product Reviews Food/Beverage Reviews Hardware News Hardware Reviews Mystery Box News Mystery Box Reviews
UAG
This Case is More Extreme Than You Are – UAG Urban Armor Gear

  If you live extremely, or just really want to protect...

Solo Backpacks
Protect Your Tech in Style With the New Solo Backpacks

Nerds, we are no longer limited to pocket protectors and neon...

Eyezen Glasses
EyeBuyDirect Eyezen Glasses Relieve Digital Eye Strain

EyeBuyDirect Eyezen Glasses help relieve eye strain and potential damage caused...

Arena Football Automotives MMA, Kick Boxing & Boxing Professional Wrestling
Vampiro Named the Head of Talent Relations for Lucha Libre FMV

From El Rey Network – Los Angeles – March 13 2017...

GLORY 39 Brussels and GLORY 39 SuperFight Series Fight Cards Finalized for Saturday, March 25

AMSTERDAM – GLORY, the world’s premier kickboxing league, today announced the...

KOTC Signs 14 WMMA Fights to Exclusive Contracts

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA. (March 7, 2017) – King of the Cage has announced...

Adult Continuity Comics on the Can Cultural Junk Drawer Future Comic Rock Stars Is That Racist? Revisiting the Reviled THAT'S NOT ROTTEN! The B-Reel The Cantina Scene This Week in Crowdfunding What the HELL Did I just...?
DC’s New Aqualad is ‘3-Pages of Gay’

3…2…1…Okay, now that the Social Justice Warriors who have only read...

12 Incredible Assyrian Women Around the World (Reposting)

March commemorates Women’s History Month in the United States of America,...

Comics on the Can – Amerikarate #1

Amerikarate! Writer – Corey Kalman, Brockton McKinney. Illustrated by Devin Roth...

Event News Event Reviews
NSFW SuicideGirls Blackheart Burlesque Sneak Peak & Photo Gallery

March 16, 2017 – The SuicideGirls: Blackheart Burlesque Tour gave a...

WWE Slam Crate Event – Stone Cold Stuns Meltdown Comics

WWE Slam Stars is an upcoming series of figures that will...

Chris Hardwick Launches First-Ever ID10T Music Festival + Comic Conival

From Live Nation Entertainment – Los Angeles, CA (March 6, 2017)...

Gaming Uncensored Toon-In-Talk
Gaming Uncensored: Year in Review 2016

A look back at the year in gaming.

Gaming Uncensored Roundtable: December 2016

December’s roundtable discusses story in games with Chad, Josh, and Spencer....

Gaming Uncensored: Podcast #349

Jamie reflects on some of his time with the HTC Vive....

Music Interviews Music News Music Reviews
Lebanese Englishwoman, Nadine Khouri Lulls you with ‘The Salted Air’

There is something fitting about a woman who’s last name translates...

Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con: Interview w/ Sonya Belousova

At last month’s Stan Lee’s LA Comic Con event, I had...

Mike Hill Bass Lives for ‘Love and War’

Love and War is a pop rock collaborative project that is...