Release Date(s)2018 (March 26, 2019)
Studio(s)Dark Rift Films/Epic Pictures (Dread)
- Film/Program Grade: C+
- Video Grade: B+
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A
Paying homage to everything from The Evil Dead to Gremlins to Aliens, but with a strong female cast at its center, Book of Monsters made enough waves at Frightfest 2018 to be picked up for eventual distribution. The premise is simple: Sophie is turning 18 and everybody is coming to her party, but when monsters who killed her monster hunter mother many years before begin slaughtering all of the guests, it’s up to her and her friends to take up the mantle and destroy them.
There isn’t much to critique when it comes to a movie like this. One could condemn it for all of its flaws, but that would be pointless. This is a romp and it should be treated as such. Getting bogged down in the minutia of stock characters, unwarranted motivations, and flippant reactions in the face of danger seems old hat nowadays. Seeing the party guests being torn in half and evil garden gnomes attacking a male stripper, subsequently throwing them into a microwave, you soon realize that you’re in straight up Full Moon Entertainment territory. There’s just enough character development to get everybody where they need to be and the performances are actually good from all involved, so it’s a solid low budget horror film, all things considered.
There’s not much more to it than that. If I had any nitpicks, it would be that there’s a little too much dialogue, boring exposition, and that it could have used more wide shots to make it feel a little less (ineffectively) claustrophobic. However, plenty of fun set pieces, good performances, practical gore effects, and an ample of satire make Book of Monsters a fun Saturday night watch, especially with a group of friends who all dig horror as much as you do.
The Blu-ray presentation of Book of Monsters features a digitally-sourced presentation. It doesn’t offer a ton of depth, but there are some well-composed shots from time to time that certainly display it. Detail is high and the color palette is wide-ranging, including the pre-monster party scenes featuring Sophie’s house which show off a variety of hues. Contrast levels are ideal and blacks are inky deep with a large amount of shadow detail. Everything appears bright and well-defined, lacking most of the standard flatness associated with digital cinematography. On the other hand, there’s obvious banding on display, which may or may not be inherent.
The audio is presented in English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital with optional subtitles in English and Spanish. The 5.1 track offers an immersive experience with frequent directional activity and potent sound effects, but the overall track lacks LFE. The score and music selection is strong as well, while dialogue is mostly clear. Occasionally it seems a bit too low, but then again, there’s generally a lot of activity happening sonically whenever this occurs. The 2.0 track is much of the same, but with less speaker space to play around in, obviously.
The extras selection is quite abundant and includes two great audio commentaries, one with director Stewart Sparke and writer/producer Paul Butler, and the other with actors Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden, Daniel Thrace, and Arron Dennis; Opening the Book of Monsters, an extensive 63-minute documentary about the making of the film featuring lots of behind-the-scenes footage and photos, as well as interviews with director Stewart Sparke, writer/producer Paul Butler, and actress Lyndsey Craine; 14 deleted and alternate scenes (Sophie’s Nightmare, Jonas Meets the Girls, Beth’s Mistake, Gary’s Test, Mona’s Sexy Note, University Challenge, Extended Striptease, Stripper Snacks, Something Survived, Under the Bed, The Jigsaw Puzzle, Death & Destiny, Sophie Speaks German, Alternate Ending); a 5-minute gag reel; the 5-minute proof of concept short film and Kickstarter info; Rats!, a 4-minute short film; two 7-minute Frightfest TV interview segments with director Stewart Sparke, writer/producer Paul Butler, actors Nicholas Vince, Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden, and Lizzie Stanton; and both the red band and green band trailers for the film.
Dread (formerly Dread Central Presents) offers up another solid Blu-ray release with Book of Monsters. The A/V quality is slightly lacking, but the movie itself, as well as the massive extras selection, should be quite enjoyable for anybody who picks it up.
– Tim Salmons