In a gloomy direction, Monstrous focuses on creature-feature horror

In a gloomy direction, Monstrous focuses on creature-feature horror ...

Christina Ricci is one of those actors who had both the chance and the misfortune to play in an iconic role at a very young age. She played Wednesday Addams in the Addams Family and its sequel, and the role hones her. In the public imagination, she will always be a pallid, creepy child, simultaneously sinister and adorable, with an air of Victorian spookiness. It doesnt help her, however, that she has retained a girlishness into her 40s,

While Kirsten Dunst drew attention from her ethereal performance in Interview with the Vampire to blockbuster positions and arthouse endorsement, Ricci was caught typecast and faded from view, not unlike Winona Ryder a decade earlier. It turns out Misty was completely under her control, but she is now filled with unexpected comedy, pathos, and anxiety. It''s enough to finally change how people think of Ricci and her career.

Ricci has a strong future. Every minute of the modest creature feature Monstrous, a 1950s-inspired chiller with a cunning secret. In 1955, Cody is calm but not sullen. It soon becomes clear that the pair have fled a horrifying situation. Cody is forgiven for his father''s mistreatment, but Laura has no choice.

Laura is putting a small-town idyll ahead of him, enrolling Cody in school, and finding a job as a model. However, it continues to evolve: sometimes liquid and oily, sometimes skeletal, sometimes billowing like a massive of pondweed or rotten fabric. Its spooky stuff. After one horrifying encounter, Cody is confused about the lake rather than repelled by it. Thats when his world begins falling apart.

Monstrous, a spooky 2020 UFO film, is riffing on pulp fiction from the 1950s, Twilight Zone chills, and the mix of fear and desire inspired by something foreign and unknown ruffling the smooth surface of a hermetic society. But where the film, directed by Chris Sivertson and written by Carol Chrest, reveals a straightforward approach to material that is bigger on the surface.

The film''s gloomy Lauras turquoise station wagon, the faint outline of her A-line skirts, and Ricci''s resounding frustration throughout the film. It only comes to life in a few disappointing moments: in Lauras strangely testy encounters with the landlord and his suspicious wife (Don Baldaramos and Colleen Camp); in the appearances of the monster, a multifaceted concept that is even more unsettling for being so difficult to pin down in the minds eye.

Some of these options may be intentional. Monstrous is upended at a point in the story that would not work both as deliberate as possible. However, the late-film choices are effective, although they may arrive too late to redeem what they have ever seen. If Chrest and Sivertson had invested less in planning for this twist and more in developing the world and characters that build up to it, or, for that matter, in dealing sensitively and persuasively with the consequences of its closing stretch Monstrous would be a more satisfying

Monstrous does eventually offer a chance to see Christina Ricci lose the built artifice and ferocious control of so many of her performances and give us something raw and unfiltered. For a moment, we get to see past Wednesday, and Misty, and even the Laura Monstrous has us following, and see the overwhelming vulnerability beneath the surface. It''s a moment of truth from an actor who is usually asked to play, and its a warm pleasure in a otherwise strangely detached little film.

Monstrous is in limited theatrical release and is available for purchase on Amazon, Vudu, and other digital platforms.