Wednesday 29 May 2024

Prime Time: Are We Monsters (2021)

Thinking that I would treat myself to something different in my current selection of animated movie viewings, I opted to give my time to Are We Monsters with the knowledge that it wasn't going to be any kind of traditional animated movie. It does incorporate some animated elements, as well as some horrible special effects, and I was rooting for it to impress me.

It did not impress me.

John Black plays Everett, a young man taught by his father about the existence of werewolves. Everett aims to carry on the family tradition (werewolf extermination) after the death of his father, but the situation might be slightly complicated by the fact that werewolves aren't necessarily the mindless monsters they are assumed to be. A hunt is still on though, and both Maya (Charlotte Olivia) and Luke (Jathis Sivanesan) find themselves in potential danger, whether that is from Everett or from elsewhere.

I sensed that I was in troubled when I saw that this was also co-written by Black. That suspicion was absolutely confirmed when I saw the first sequence that made use of a special effect that I'm pretty sure even someone of my limited technical abilities could have improved. Director Seb Cox certainly has his work cut out for him, but he does himself no favours with the weak script, poor visuals, and amateur cast members.

I won't spend too long being critical of Black, Olivia, Sivanesan, or anyone else in the cast. They're generally not very good, but they also don't have decent material to work with. I'm not sure even the best actors in the world could do enough to elevate this mess.

It's a low-budget project, fair enough, and Cox also takes on a number of other roles (cinematographer, editor, animator), but that doesn't excuse such a poor final product. There is a theme here that is potentially worth exploring, if done correctly. This isn't the right environment for it, and that leaves the cast struggling to be earnest and interesting in between moments that are so mishandled that all you can do is laugh. The animation feels like a lazy solution to a non-existent problem, when it should have felt like an interesting and bold creative choice, and the creature design looks as if someone dropped a load of sausage-shaped putty into a 3D printer and just decided to go along with whatever the end result was.

I HAVE seen worse films than this, I'm pretty sure of that. It's hard to think of them right now though. This fails at everything it is attempting to do, and it's depressing to see that Black and Cox have already worked together on some more projects that will add to their filmographies. I am not saying that they should never work again. I am just saying that everyone would be happier if they took some more time to actually figure out the basics of film-making before vomiting up more messy puddles like this.


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