Everyone loves a good monster movie. Everyone has their reasons for loving a good monster movie. Some side with the monster, some root for the massive take-down. There must be tons of analytical papers that look into a viewer’s relationship with monsters and why, despite not being realistic in any way, they feel real to us as we watch them on screen. We easily accept there can be such a thing as a Godzilla fighting Mothra or Werewolves, Frankenstein. Vampires, Succubi, and even Reptar.
Very recently, I found myself immersing myself in several monster movies. The first was a modern revisiting of the classic, “Kong,” which was just an absolute delight to watch. Shortly after, I caught the indie movie “Colossal” featuring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Which was shortly followed with “Saving Sally” during Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. Where I walked away from “Kong” with the familiar satisfaction of seeing a familiar story played out, the other two left me in a deep and reflective state.
“Colossal” completely baited me. The trailers that popped up along social media seemed to promote a bizarre comedy indie movie. Anne Hathaway played Gloria, a woman who somehow was controlling an invading monster in Seoul. To be fair, the movie does have some great comedic moments.These moments are so needed as the rest of the movie is basically a metaphor for the toxic effects of alcoholism on those around around. Sneaking in among the destruction is the rooted poison of a controlling and abusive relationship.
Gloria is the alcoholic in the story and we enter her life at a point where it has just completely unraveled. She returns to her empty childhood home. There she meets up with her childhood friend, Oscar (played by Jason Sudeikis). With Oscar’s help, Gloria is able to get a job at a bar and furniture to fill the empty home. Except her drinking habits do not change. Oscar does not offer to curb any of it all. Together they drink, chat, and then wake up to hear that a monster has been ravaging Seoul, which is tied to Gloria. As Gloria begins to recognize and attempt to correct the damage that she has created around her, the reality begins to shift and truths begin to emerge.
This movie completely floored me with the intensity of the message that was conveyed. There have been many movies showcasing the aftermath of alcoholism. Many times these scenes are shielded or faded out, leaving the viewer a relief of having to really experience it. With “Colossal” even with the silly moments, the problem is right there in our face, destroying South Korea.
In a lighter animated style but with a subject just as intense was “Saving Sally.” This live action Filipino was directed by and featured Rhian Ramos as the lead actress of Sally along with Enzo Marcos as Marty The story is a simple story of Marty falling in love with the girl next door. Marty begins the movie explaining that he has the ability to see the monsters that walk around us, which means he can see the true ugly nature of humans. The monsters are adorably drawn and remind me of Nickelodeon’s “Ahhh! Real Monsters.” Sally is stunning, clever, and is an inventor. They first met when Sally used one of her inventions to save Marty from the bullies. It was love at first sight for Marty.
The tone is deceptively lighthearted as we enjoy the sweet romance between the two. Just like “Colossal,” the story swiftly escalates to reveal that Sally’s parents are not just over-controlling The bruises begin to hint at another reality.
The backdrop of all of the animation and visual effects only isolated the true monster of the movie. It ends on a sweet note but only thanks to the magic of cartoons. The movie style immediately brings to mind “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” and “Scott Pilgrim” with story that will make you want to protect everyone you love.
Maybe some of us were scared (me) of the monsters from before because the monsters represented a conflict that we no longer relate to. Movies like “Colossal” and “Saving Sally” recognize that these imaginary beings that they create are a diluted representation of the monsters that we see within ourselves and others. We cannot point at the evil in a human guise, but in imaginary monster form we can clearly this, the focus of our discontent.
With so much unrest and discord resonating across all communication mediums, it is no surprise to see monster stories rise again. Even with their heavy messages, I would still highly recommend “Colossal” and “Saving Sally.” Both of these indie movies are able to tell a story regarding intense topics in way that does not alienate or belittle the audience. Both have completely stunning visual effects and are just great overall movies to catch over all.
Here be monsters.
Official site for Colossal: http://sheiscolossal.com/
Official site for Saving Sally: http://savingsally.com/