We have all been at the stage in our lives where we just can’t think of anything original or creative. It’s frustrating and it often leaves us feeling like we have failed. I have encountered many times where I have a writer’s block, which has left me wishing there was some solution that could help me gain my enthusiasm and passion for writing back.
The character in A Brilliant Monster, has a unique solution to his writer’s block, but it comes with very devastating consequences. As the truth unfolds, you’ll be left wondering whether certain writers have their own monsters hidden away, to help them churn out all those books (maybe that’s Stephen King’s real secret to his success)?
This is the latest film from writer and director F.C.Rabbath, whose IMDb bio lists his attributes as the following: an inventor, author, comedian, former journalist (AP winner) and entrepreneur. He has a staggering 33 credits as director, and I have previously encountered his work, via The Hum (2015) which deals with similar themes of obsession and a man’s descent into madness. A Brilliant Monster, is a devilishly delightful horror/black comedy, which manages to blend the two genres together in an effective manner.
The film follows Mitch Stockridge (Dennis Friebe), a self-help author who seems to have it all: a nice house, fame and fortune. However, from the get go, there’s something suspicious about Mitch. When we first meet him, he is disposing of a car using white gloves. We follow him as he returns home, only to go upstairs to a mysterious room, taking off his belt to beat whatever is living inside.
This is an intriguing start to the film, drawing us into this strange and surreal world of this tortured writer. We discover that Mitch was a loser as a child, bullied and picked on by his peers, and abused by his own father (who he tends to as an adult).
The only person Mitch has ever truly open to, was his ex-girlfriend Sophie (Alea Figueroa) who was so horrified by his secret, that she went to the police. The detectives who question her aren’t convinced at first, but slowly Abby Dunn (Joy Kigin) begins to suspect there’s more to Mitch then he lets on. Dunn begins to investigate Mitch, observing a pattern of people who get close to him, often go missing.
Mitch is less concerned about Dunn’s sudden interest, but rather the pressure of writing his first ever fiction book. As the deadline looms closer, Mitch must begin to make difficult decisions in order to fuel his source of creativity. However, is success worth the price of what he must do to feed the beast?
The concept is an interesting one, and F.C. Rabbath’s approach to exploring this story is a bold decision. In some scenes the situation is quite amusing, only for things to become deadly serious and the tone to quickly shift. You are never too sure which direction, the film will take, which makes for an exciting viewing experience.
The film’s slow build up to the monster’s reveal leaves you on the edge of your seat, although personally speaking, it may have been more effective if we never saw the actual monster or whether it was revealed to be more human-like in appearance. The real monsters in this film are the human beings like Mitch’s bully, his father and Mitch, himself.
The film looks slick, with high production visuals despite its small budget. The use of lighting is very noteworthy, with scenes involving the monster being bathed in a greenish light. The colour green conveying emotions such as anger, greed, and jealously, indicating the insecurity of our main character. Mitch is often seen bathed in a reddish light, revealing his passion for writing and his violent temper. Mitch is a sociopath, incapable of empathy, so it is ironic that he is the writer of popular self-help books with titles like “All is Forgiven” or “Your Life is Beautiful.”
Friebe gives a very strong performance, and Mitch is the type of man who you love to hate. He makes your skin crawl, with Friebe truly embracing this character in such a way that he reminded me of Christian Bale in American Psycho or Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street. Friebe seems to take delight in acting like this narcissistic asshole, but also manages to capture this lost, damaged soul hidden deep within this character.
The supporting cast also deliver decent performances with Mick Leali giving the film some much-needed comedy as Mitch’s childhood friend. The only grumble is that the female characters don’t seem as well-developed as the Mitch, and some of the performances are a little amateurish.
This film may not be to everyone’s tastes, hard-core horror fans may be put off by the lack of gore, and I feel that some may not get the film’s dark humor. Still, this is a very original film, which has a great central performance. And, one has to wonder, does F.C. Rabbath have his own little monster, that helps him come up with these eccentric stories and larger-than-life characters?