Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Monster’ (2008)

It may be called ‘Monster’ but this 2008 movie was anything but a hit. It went straight to dvd release and having watched it the other day it is very clear to see why. The film revolves around two American reporters who are in Tokyo to interview some guy at the Ministry of Environment about global warming. During this interview, what they think is an earthquake occurs which it turns out are caused by a monster reminiscent of a giant octopus that has been dormant for centuries. This film supposedly takes place in January 2003 but the two girls are dressed as if its summer wearing sleeveless tops. The film is told documentary style as if the video tape has been discovered after the whole ordeal which means you get 86 mins of grainy youtube-style handheld footage with the damaged film effects kicking in every few seconds by way of static and jump cut distortions. This kind of filming may have worked elsewhere but it just gets annoying here and even gives some people epileptic seizures.

I wasn’t aware of the storyline before I watched it so it’s just a coincidence that it has earthquake links given the tragic circumstances relating to the catastrophe on 11th March. There are scenes at the start of the film which are obviously filmed in Tokyo (Shibuya and at a hotel, probably in Shinjuku) but the caption giving the location is clearly not Shinjuku Gyoen as there is no giant wooden torii gate there. It can only be Meiji Shrine and it is there that you get to see people in the background walking around normally which is a little strange surely when the girls are in such a panic whilst the city is supposedly being terrorised by a monster. Talking of which, you can see more of the monster (though you can sure hear it by way of sound effects in the background constantly) on the dvd cover below than you do in the whole film where you only see a tentacle or two swinging about for a few seconds here and there. The two girls switch camera from time to time and fill out the movie by running around “Tokyo” (which looks more like L.A.), crying, panicking, getting their faces dirty and generally running for cover in a country where the language barrier does them no favours.  The plot is paper-thin, the camera-work is awful (even by amateur standards), the ‘effects’ are repetitive and it relies far too much on gimmicks (its a tape of lost footage remember!) to try and cover up its many flaws with the main one being that this is a monster movie without much of a monster in it.