Melissa Barrera has a terrific showcase role in the Sundance Midnight selection, Your Monster, a musical/horror/rom-com mash up.
PLOT: A young address (Melissa Barrera) ends up being dumped by her louse of a boyfriend while battling cancer. In her recovery, she also learns that he gave away a role he promised her in his upcoming Broadway debut. Heartbroken, she finds solace in an unlikely figure – the monster under her bed who tormented her as a child.
REVIEW: Your Monster is a terrific showcase for Melissa Barrera. While audiences only know her for being a classic “Final Girl” in the new Scream movies, from which she was unceremoniously dumped, according to her bio, she’s a classic theatre kid. In this movie, Barrera displays a flair for light comedy and shows off her impressive singing voice, with the film being a quasi-musical/ rom-com hybrid with some (light) horror elements mixed in.
Indeed, Barrera is so immensely likeable that you can overlook some of the movie’s shortcomings, including a radical change in tone that seems to come out of nowhere in the last act. She’s ably supported by Tommy Dewey, who plays the rather charming monster that lives under her bed. Dewey’s monster is stylized romantically, with his wild made of hair and snarl making him look more like Ron Perlman’s Vincent in the old Beauty and the Beast TV show rather than an actual monster. Dewey plays him as a regular guy who happens to be a monster, with him enjoying show tunes, the theatre, Shakespeare, and – well – ripping out the occasional throat or two.
He and Barrera have the easygoing chemistry that makes this work pretty well as a rom-com with soft horror elements sprinkled in. Despite playing in the Midnight section here at Sundance, I wouldn’t qualify it as a genre movie. But director Caroline Lindy has a good sense of pace and makes this fun enough to be a natural crowdpleaser. There’s so much music in it that one assumes that, at some point, it was designed to be a full-on musical, and it’s a shame that it’s not, as the more surrealistic final act would have worked better in that genre. The show tunes by Daniel and Patrick Lazour are infectious and catchy.
Your Monster shines a light on a different facet of Barrera’s talent. It would be interesting to see her use her scream queen persona to leap into the modern equivalent of a Rocky Horror Picture Show or Phantom of the Paradise. Your Monster isn’t that film, but Lindy uses Barrera to great effect here. Outside of the final act, my only caveat is that Barrera’s boyfriend, a wannabe Broadway director played by Edmund Donavan, is such a reprehensible character that it’s hard to believe she would carry a torch for him. He’s got all the shading of a jerk boyfriend in an Adam Sandler comedy.
Despite being made on a modest scale, Lindy’s passion for the material shines through, and while I doubt a big theatrical release is in the cards for it, it’s not hard to imagine a streamer picking this up. It deserves to boost Barrera’s career, with it likely that, despite her Scream dismissal, she will come through her recent controversy unscathed. This is a fun little movie, with its leads delivering winning performances that make up for an uneven conclusion.