Horror Fans Deserve a Better Kind of Monster
The monster from A Quiet Place should win an academy award. Its performance was amazing. Seriously. I remember the first time I saw it—a promising young actor in the 2006 indie flick The Host. The film became a cult favorite, but it didn’t quite launch the monster’s career. It was more of a nuanced role anyways.
Two years later, it landed a starring role in J. J. Abrams’ Cloverfield. While the reviews were somewhat mixed, I enjoyed the film very much. I could tell the monster had a long career ahead of it.
In 2014’s Godzilla reboot, the monster landed its first big-budget script. It played opposite Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Bryan Cranston. I didn’t love this role (it felt a bit like a reskinning of past performances), but I’m willing to recognize the film’s success.
In season 2 of Stranger Things, the monster actually played every role. The original working title was Nutty Professor 3: Demogorgon Rides Again
And then in 2016, it finally happened. BOOM. Stranger Things landed and took the world by storm. The monster had officially arrived, becoming a household name overnight. Sure, it may have backslid a little in 2017’s Kong: Skull Island, but it quickly pivoted, delivering home runs in both Stranger Things Season 2 and 2018’s A Quiet Place.
*Inhale* AND THEN…
Alright, never mind. You get the joke, I’m sure.
The point is, if you saw A Quiet Place, you likely thought the monster felt a little…familiar. And that’s because it was. It was the same creature concept Hollywood has delivered for the past decade, and it only seems to come in two particular flavors:
Daddy Long Legs The long-limbed monster, sometimes with “backward” knees.
Open-Face Sandwich The monster with face flaps, sometimes with sharp teethies.
It almost feels as if, in 2005, someone in a prop department accidentally ordered 10,000 units of the same monster costume. Hollywood has been trying to burn through them ever since. Think I’m crazy? Take a look at these pictures and tell me it’s not a minor variation of the same creature over and over and over again:
So why is this? Why do creative teams insist on the path most traveled? I know these aren’t the only examples of monsters from the past decade. There are plenty of amazing design concepts out there: Shape of Water, Insidious, Pan’s Labyrinth, etc. Still, big-budget creature features can’t seem to help themselves. And so I wonder, who will be the first one to break the cycle? Who will be the one to come up with something so awesome—so friggin’ original—that Hollywood finally abandons its long legs and origami faces?
In my opinion, it can’t happen soon enough.
Thanks for reading—Oh! Also, A Quiet Place is pretty amazing, and you should definitely go see it in theatres.