Sundance Review: ‘Your Monster’

Melissa Barrera Falls In Love With The Monster In The Back Of Her Closet In Caroline Lindy's First Feature

After beating cancer and being abandoned by her composer boyfriend, musical theater actress Laura (Melissa Barrera) is forced to move home with very little support from those around her. As she dwells on her lack of auditions and mourns the loss and opportunity of her old relationship, she starts to experience odd occurrences at home. Lights start to flicker, things go bump in the night, and it starts to sound like something is hunkering down with Laura in first-time director Caroline Lindy’s Your Monster, based on her short.

Barrera is captivating as the insecure and accommodating Laura. As she navigates her life without her ex, Jacob, she starts to realize that the work she did on his musical with the hopes to eventually star in it is for nothing. Around this same time, a monster in the back of her closet appears and threatens her to move out in two weeks. 

Donned in prosthetics ala 1987’s Beauty and the Beast show, is Tommy Dewey. Monster, as he is simply and appropriately called, is a true brute, eating Laura’s food, yelling in her face, and scaring her whenever possible. Laura soon adapts to his presence and they start to be friends. Monster doesn’t understand why Laura is allowing Jacob to walk all over her, giving her promised part to an up-and-coming actress (Meghann Fehy) and all but publicly pitying her. In response, her new roommate and love interest pushes her to fight for her space in the real world. 

Since I saw Your Monster at Sundance, I saw the film with very little marketing behind it. However, the messaging I saw pushed a feminist narrative, to the point that I believed that the film could be a twisted revenge tale where Laura takes revenge against her Monster lover. There are two interpretations of Your Monster. Either one convolutes its feminist packaging. Without spoiling it, if you can take the ending literally, she finds empowerment in a male romantic figure and if you go the more figurative route, the visual representation of female empowerment and rage is also a male. 

What Caroline Lindy does with Your Monster is ambitious, channeling similar vibes to similar Sundance films like Mimi Cave’s Fresh or Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman. Her visuals are a balance of the macabre and realistic New York which give off this campy quality. While the film doesn’t nail every genre it is going for, it’s a solid start for a first-time director.

'Your Monster'
Cortland Jacoby
A D.C area native, Cortland has been interested in media since birth. Taking film classes in high school and watching the classics with family instilled a love of film in Cortland’s formative years. Before graduating with a degree in English and minoring in Film Study from Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, Cortland ran the college’s radio station, where she frequently reviewed films on air. She then wrote for another D.C area publication before landing at Punch Drunk Critics. Aside from writing and interviewing, she enjoys podcasts, knitting, and talking about representation in media.
sundance-review-your-monster'Your Monster' certainly has bite but the execution of this monster movie derails its intended message.