Synopsis: A mother and daughter hit the road and head for Lizzy’s biological father lives. Lizzy, the daughter, plans to stay there to avoid her abusive alcoholic mother. During the trip, they are attacked by a monster that could easily have escaped from a Jim Henson movie.
Year Released: 2016
Writer/Director: Bryan Bertino (The Strangers, The Blackcoat’s Daughter)
Bryan Bertino: I want to tell the story of this abused girl fighting off the figurative monsters she faces every day
Jim Henson: Say no more
Favorite Death: Though there are only two to choose from, my favorite death is the mothers. It’ completely pointless and didn’t need to happen. They either could have waited it out until morning, scaring off the monster with the flashlight, or they could have done Lizzy’s plan first. It’s a stupid way to make the mom seem like a hero.
Funniest Part: There’s a lot to unpack in this movie as the funniest part. But I think the tow truck dude, Jessie really shines. First of all, I love that when he shows up, Lizzy focuses more on the fact that the wolf is gone than the fact that they called the ambulance and not a tow truck. Because this is a monster movie, she’s not worried about a creepy old man on a long silent road. Secondly, Jessie doesn’t even put the car up on his truck. Instead, he assesses the damage done to the car and starts trying to fix it. I don’t understand why he does this, but he’s clearly only in this movie as bait for the monster. When he dies, he crawls out from the woods one arm short. He crawls to his truck but is in too bad shape to get inside. The girls yell at him from inside their car because they “don’t know what to do.” The monster then shows up and eats him by slowly dragging him under his truck. I don’t get why that has to happen that way and it takes way too long to happen in the first place.
What they did right: The girl who plays Lizzy is actually an okay actress. She doesn’t really emote very well, but I think they play that up as being a side effect of shitty parenting. The production value is high and they utilize the darkness and rain to make the monster look scarier than it does otherwise.
Special effects and lighting: Lighting was good, a bit dark at times, but good and creepy. Special effects, on the other hand, are….questionable.
The monster itself is clearly a half-body puppet. The rest (legs and feet) of the monster is covered with flowing fabric to make up for the fact that this is a low-budget movie.
The blood is sometimes believable, but it depends on the scene. For example, after the wolf (or rather, the glorified furry sack of potatoes) is hit by their car, there is realistic blood on the front bumper and grill. The wounds are also nicely done, though are very obviously obscured by dark lighting on purpose. However, when Jessie’s arm comes flying out of nowhere and lands on the hood of the car, the blood looks orange.
Finally, there is a wound on the mother’s face throughout the movie that appears and reappears depending on the scene.
Huge shout out to the Immunity Zero YouTube Channel for recommending this movie for today’s review.
If you haven’t listened to their narration of my story Trapped, you need to! You can find that here.
I know I said I would never do another Amazon Prime movie, but this was a special request, how can I resist?
This wonder of a movie was something to behold for sure. It starts off with young Lizzy cleaning up beer bottles and emptying out ashtrays. She has a suitcase packed and is passing the time waiting for her mother to get up.
Her mom’s alarm eventually sounds off and we’re introduced to the twisted relationship they have-Lizzy is more of a mother than her mother is.
Fast forward a bit and the two are in the car headed towards Lizzy’s dad’s house. We are shown a dog toy that plays incessant nursery rhymes and she’s given a family heirloom (a watch) that the movie completely forgets about.
Let me just say right now that this movie’s “thing” is similar to what happened in Would You Rather. There are loud, dramatic parts interspersed with long lulls of activity and boring writing.
That being said, I’ll be fast-forwarding a lot.
So they’re driving down the road when suddenly they’re T-boned by something big and hit a wolf while swerving.
The furry sack of potatoes they hit looks like this:
The two babble on about their injuries, the mother asks Lizzy if she’s okay about a thousand times, and they call for an ambulance.
The ambulance takes an entire hour to arrive, but in the meantime, the dispatcher somehow sent a tow truck to help them.
The tow truck man’s name is Jessie, and when he arrives, he, for some reason, takes their bags and locks them in his truck.
He then proceeds to not put the car up on his truck, but fiddle around with the engine, you know, like every tow truck driver does.
Of course, Jessie is attacked by the monster, but it takes literally 30 minutes to happen. We don’t even get to see it either! There’s so much build up and all we really see is a disembodied arm flop onto the hood of their car.
Jessie eventually crawls out of the woods and is eaten under his truck.
I guess now would be a good time to talk about the strange flashbacks we see throughout the film. There’s one in which Lizzy grabs a knife and holds it to her sleeping mother’s throat, murmuring “I hate you” over and over again. To be honest, I wasn’t sure this was a flashback until the rainy, dark, roadside thing came back on the screen.
Another flashback includes her parents, still together at this point, bullying her into (I assume) giving back pills she took for her own good. This is never explained. In the midst of this scene, she squeezes her dog toy that plays nursery rhymes and makes the scene really confusing. At the end her mother slaps her. This scene lends nothing to why she would rather be with her father than her mother, but whatever.
Okay, this is getting boring. This movie is boring and doesn’t hold your attention very well. I’m just going to cut to the chase.
In the end, the mother sacrifices herself even though she didn’t have to, there were literally 30 ideas they could have come up with if they had just stopped to plan stuff out first.
The movie would have been better had they done Lizzy’s plan first then both lived and worked on their relationship as a mother and daughter but that’s not what the people want! We want blood and guts!
So her mother dies and Lizzy uses her stuffed dog to lure the monster into the overturned ambulance they had attempted to escape with. She booby traps the monster and sets it on fire with a lighter and some antiseptic spray.
She then walks away a hero and the movie ends.
I get that the director was trying to do a figurative vs. real monster thing with her parent’s and the actual monster, but she conquers them both, so there’s nothing to really take away from this film.
She deals with monsters every day, it’s just now they’re all dead so it’s not an issue anymore.
Overall this movie had some good points. Aside from the repetitive writing (or bad ad-libbing) and the lulls in this movie, it’s linear enough to make sense. It sets us up for a story that actually happens and the plot holes that do exist aren’t bad enough to keep us from watching.
Last Week’s Review: Would You Rather
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