Jenn lives in an underground bunker, protected from the monsters that now ravage the world. This is the day that she goes outside...
I’m sure it’s not just me. But most folks love a good mystery. Am I right? Well – hold your breath and set your brain to “random”, ‘cause this short film will have you guessing with any number of “out there” theories. And “out there” is certainly appropriate, since this is a film in the vein of this year’s awesome 10 Cloverfield Lane. As in – “what is out there – beyond the safety of the bunker door?” Outwardly, it appears to be a zombie, post-apocalyptic thriller – but just you wait…
Monsters is a brilliant short which I’ve now seen at two separate festivals over the past month or so. First at the 16th Annual Shriekfest and then again at the inaugural Horror Haus Film Festival. It holds up, that’s for sure – even after knowing its big secret.
Jenn (Caitlin Carmichael) is the younger sibling of brother Isaac (Joey Luthman) and they share a basement bunker with their parents Marie (Say Anything’s Ione Skye) and Henry (Christopher Wiehl). Since birth, Jenn has heard about the “monsters” who inhabit the land above ground. Everyone but Jenn are allowed to go on scavenging missions (complete with gas masks and deadly weapons). Jenn does her homework and follows the rules – making the best of her closed-in boredom. She also draws pictures of what she believes the “monsters” look like and practices battling them (the drawings) with a wooden sword. Eventually, her curiosity gets the best of her and she takes it upon herself (without her family’s knowledge) to leave that bunker.
The film is perfectly shot – properly capturing the claustrophobia of the situation, the tantalizing mystery of what awaits Jenn out of the bunker and the almost silent way the secret is revealed. The film and the way it is shot in the last moments – makes it feel as though the filmmakers themselves are shocked by what Jenn finds. It’s so nicely done.
While all of the performers offer their genuinely impressive work to the story and mystery of the “above-ground”, the film clearly belongs to young Caitlin Carmichael. The journey is Jenn’s and there are plenty of moments which allow Carmichael to shine. I can’t chat them all up for fear of spoiling the piece’s engaging mystery, but Carmichael brings a pre-teen angst of anyone Jenn’s age as well as the unique curiosity of a post-apocalyptic world – something she so desperately wants to understand and a battle she truly wants to be a part of – again out of that curiosity but also because she wants to be a deeper part of her family. The film’s climax will have you marveling at the emotions Carmichael is able to call upon – and along with your shock at the big reveal – you’ll be very pleased with the actress’s ability to share and mirror the same disorientation you are experiencing.
Carmichael won Best Young Actress at the 2016 Horror Haus Film Festival. And while so many awards recipients may have you hemming and hawing about potentially better choices for winners – you’ll have no problem accepting this talented young actress as the proper winner.
With a monumentally intriguing final twist which you’ll never see coming – it’s the performance of Caitlin Carmichael which will linger in your memory – even longer than the shocking climax.
Monsters is now available online for your viewing pleasure. 13 minutes which are well worth your time! Check out the link below!