A Monster Calls opened to rave reviews during TIFF 2016 and its initial release in Spain, and has been highly anticipated by audiences around the world. Now, if you checked out the trailer on a whim without knowing the source material, it may have given you the impression that it's a borderline horror or dark fantasy. But if you'd read the books, you'd know this isn't the whole story — A Monster Calls is not as scary as it first appears. Whilst it's not a horror, A Monster Calls might be too emotional for some kids — and has been breaking the hearts of adults around the world too! If you're looking for a film with real heart that touches on tough subjects but has an uplifting message though, this could be the perfect flick for you and your kids.
Whether you know the source material or not, it's an entertaining and emotionally satisfying film that won't be just a personal favorite, but might be a family favorite as well. Here are a few reasons why.
(Warning: Minor spoilers ahead!)
1. It's A Faithful Adaptation
There are some minor details in the story that were unfortunately left out to fit a two-hour timeframe, but unless you've read the book, you'll barely notice. A lot of book-to-film adaptations get flack from longtime book fans for for disregarding important details in the book, but that wasn't the case with #AMonsterCalls. The film packs the same emotional punch as the books, but also imparts the same key lessons about dealing with grief and loss, especially for youngsters.
It helped quite a lot that Patrick Ness was also the screenwriter; he should definitely collaborate with J.A. Bayona again in the future!
2. The Visuals Were Stunning
As the director says in the video above, the #CGI in A Monster Calls doesn't distract audiences from the more important elements of the movie. From Liam Neeson's yew tree form, to Conor's revelation, everything is visually appealing, but it never detracts from the drama of the movie. The three stories — the most integral part of the movie — are shown to us via Conor's imagination, and consist of lovely animated sketches and watercolors, which pair together perfectly. The camerawork also heightens the sense of place and deep emotion running throughout the film.
3. You Will Feel Like You're A Part of Conor's Life
One of the qualities of a well-executed film is making you feel like you're a part of it; we empathize with each of the characters, rather than being just a detached observer. A Monster Calls made me feel like I was very much a part of Conor's life, like his classmates, grandma, dad, and mum.
#LewisMacDougall especially deserves an Oscar nod for his portrayal of Conor; his portrayal was outstanding, and the young actor held his own among the acting greats Sigourney Weaver and Felicity Jones — especially in the emotional scenes.
Want to find out more about A Monster Calls? We recommend...
- The One Thing 'A Monster Calls' Can't Change From Book to Screen
- Patrick Ness Explains Why 'A Monster Calls' Is Going To Make You Cry
- The Devastating True Story Behind 'A Monster Calls'
4. It's Child-Friendly
I was quite surprised when I heard some families weren't planning to see A Monster Calls, just because of the 'monster' in the title. If you know little about it, it may send mixed signals that it's a horror movie, but that isn't the case. Most moviegoers I watched with came out utterly surprised that instead of going to what they expected would be a horror train turned out to be an emotional roller coaster. Sure, there were parts where Conor gets his butt kicked, and a scary part showing Conor's nightmare, but I think children can handle it.
What makes this child-friendly isn't the fact that an ugly groot-like creature threatens Conor for being blunt and dishonest, visiting him at night and messing up his sleeping patterns; A Monster Calls will teach children to face their fears and be open.
If you don't take my word for it, take the IMDB founder's word for it. It's his 10,000th film, and his favorite movie of 2016.
Kids and adults appreciate the emotional roller coaster that is A Monster Calls. It would be a fantastic movie to show children because through this film, you can explore the touchy subjects of separation, detachment, death, and the variety of emotions that come along with it; these elements of life could otherwise difficult to explain, and for such young minds to grasp. Like Conor, your kids can see a beautiful story that would teach them to gradually accept loss, and be more open about how they feel. Most importantly, when it all comes down to it, they'll learn that any emotional turmoil they may be experiencing does not make them a bad person, because it's what they do that truly matters.
'A Monster Calls' opens everywhere, December 23, 2016.