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The Monitor – 5

Director – Pål Sletaune

Cast – Noomi Rapace, Kristoffer Joner, Vetle Qvenild Werring, Stig R. Amdam, Maria Bock, Torkil Høeg

Release Year – 2012

Reviewed by John of the Dead

After a long break from non-English language horror I decided it was time to venture from the mainland and give a watch to this Norwegian horror film that debuted last year, The Monitor. After escaping her abusive husband Anna and her 8 year old son move to a secret location where they will start a new life. Terrified that her ex husband will find and take her son from her, Anna buys a baby monitor to keep in her son’s room. She begins to witness strange noises coming from the baby monitor that appear to be the sounds of another child being murdered, forcing her to relive the nightmare she just escaped. Not all is what it seems though, and with the child custody battle far from over Anna picks the worst time to start losing her mind.

I figured this would be a creepy film given I always find it scary when electronic/inanimate objects create noises they are not supposed to. The story starts off OK and quickly builds to the initial horror where Anna brings the baby monitor home, sets it up in her son’s room, and then hears noises late that night that clearly sounded like her son was being attacked. She frantically runs to check on him only to discover him sound asleep. The initial explanation from the electronics salesman, Helge, is that she is tuning in to another person’s frequency and should just change the channel, but the vocal disturbances do not stop. Living in constant paranoia leaves Anna on the fritz, and the caseworkers assigned to the child custody case are taking notice to Anna’s inability to serve as a suitable mother. She has lied to them about her past, and with her history of lies exposed they then question whether her husband really did hurt them, creating even more conflict for the troubled mother. Around the halfway mark we then begin to discover that something is really wrong with Anna. She is seeing things that are not really there, and we are left to question whether it is something supernatural or if she is just delusional. This continuously plays on for the rest of the film and never built up to anything worthwhile. The horror was pretty tame and also never built up to anything worth mentioning, and in fact was a big letdown given the potential that can be reached with the story’s general concept. All in all, this story is one confusing mess that leaves many questions unanswered and little to enjoy despite whatever theories I have been able to come up with. It is as if the writer purposely threw obstacles in the way to keep the viewer from understanding what is going on, and in this case I was not fond of it.

Director Pal Sletaune did well and is basically the only reason I made it through the film in one sitting. His gloomy atmosphere is very much in line with the storyline’s sad tone, and he made the most out of the poor story he left himself to work with. The few scenes of horror were executed well and the tension was high, but sadly the story never allowed for much tangible horror to surface. The acting performances were mostly positive, with lead actress Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo / Who Played With Fire / Who Kicked the Hornets Nest, Prometheus) carrying the film on her shoulders. Playing a battered wife who is also suffering delusions and going through one hell of a child custody battle brings extreme emotion to the table, and she portrayed her character well and probably made for the best thing this flick has to offer.

Overall, The Monitor is a flick that comes with much potential but suffers thanks to its confusing story. At times I felt like I could make sense of it, but a few minor details would derail every theory I came up with. The direction is okay and Noomi Rapace was great as the lead, but this is not an experience I would recommend unless you feel like dissecting and making sense of it for me.

Rating: 5/10

…Additional Stills…

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