The Babadook has to be one of the best horror movies released this millennium. Let’s be honest, it’s a bit of a modern classic. Director and writer Jennifer Kent handles the themes of fear, trauma and grief all with an intelligence.
So when I first read about her short film Monster, I knew it was another one to watch.
Monster explores many of the same themes that Babadook does. In fact, it’s very much in the same spirit. A mother lives with her young son in their rather unclean home.
The son spends his day fighting off a rather creepy doll. The mother seems to know this doll and doesn’t like it. After she finds the doll ‘trapped’ under some of the boy’s things, she throws the doll into a cupboard.
The boy later tells his mother that he has been trying to kill the monster for her. He also claims that the doll has been threatening to kill him…again.
The mother later returns to the cupboard and sees a face in there in place of the doll. It frightens her, and she then offers to allow the boy to sleep in her bed that night.
While cozying up together, the figure from the cupboard appears to the mother and son. But before the monster can hurt the boy, the mother does what any mother does best: scolding.
The monster is eventually shamed and sent back to her cupboard. The boy and mother are allowed to have some peace together at last. But after the boy goes to sleep, his mother gets up and pours a glass of milk, which she leaves outside the cupboard for the monster.
Like Babadook, this short film carries many of the same messages. We see a parent trying to protect their child’s innocence. In Monster, it’s almost as though the mother welcomes the monster. She wants the monster to stay in her place, but it does mean her child stays by her side as his sole protector.
This little black-and-white piece is only 9 minutes long, and definitely manages to tell its story in that short amount of time. All while creating an eerie, effective ambiance.
Kent has a great eye. It’s excellent to see her growth is a filmmaker between the two stories, which are very comparable. Certainly a must-watch for anyone that loved the terrifying Babadook. But it’s also a great mini-introduction to Kent’s style and themes for those yet to dip in their toes.