Wednesday, 27 December 2017

A Monster Calls

I generally don’t see myself as a fan of fantasy films, but once in a while, come across one that is not only enjoyable and well-done but also brilliant and particularly meaningful. A Monster Calls is such a film. It is about a 12-year-old boy named Conor who has a terminally ill mother; one night he receives a visit from a tree-like monster who wants to tell him 3 stories and asks him to tell a 4th story that has to be true—Conor’s recurring nightmare. At the beginning, Conor thinks the monster comes to heal his mother, only to learn that the monster is there to heal him, to help him cope with his mother’s illness and the pain. It is different from many other fantasy films. In El laberinto del fauno for example, another great film (inaccurately known in English as Pan’s Labyrinth), the fantasy world is in a sense parallel to the real world (though its darkness is nothing compared to the evil in the real world); in another sense, it’s a form of escapism, a way of hiding away from reality. In A Monster Calls, in contrast, the fantasy figure (the tree-like monster) teaches the boy about the complexity of human beings and our emotions, about how life is not like a fairytale, with clear-cut heroes and villains; and the monster also forces Conor to confront the truth, and thereby, to cope with pain.
The film has a wisdom and compassion not often found in fantasy films. Highly recommended.


  1. we watched it and liked it; although we thought it was probably overly complex for modern children. just remembering our own, though, so maybe things are different for children nowadays

    1. Oh? Could you elaborate?

    2. i'd like to, but i just can't remember back that far... but i think it seemed to us a bit contrived and artificial... not the tree, but what happened afterwards.. but i really don't recall it well enough to say much...

    3. Okay. Personally I like it very much, except the 3rd story. It doesn't quite belong, but I don't want to spoil it here.