Review: 'Mon Mon Mon Monsters' is stylised but predictable

Marcus Goh
Contributor
Si-hua (Bonnie Liang Ru-xuan) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Should you watch this at weekday movie ticket prices? Okay.

Should you watch this at weekend movie ticket prices? No.

Score: 3.5/5

Secret ending? No.

Running time: 112 minutes (~1.75 hours)

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師! 怪怪怪怪物!)” is a Taiwanese horror-comedy in Mandarin.

The film follows a group of bullies and their victim who manage to stumble upon and capture a monster. However, their imprisonment of the monster soon reveals the darker aspects of human nature.

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” is directed and written by Giddens Ko. It stars Deng Yu-kai (Lin Shu-wei), Kent Tsai (Duan Ren-hao), James Lai Jun-cheng (Liao Guo-feng), Tao Bo-meng (Yeh Wei-zhu), Bonnie Liang Ru-xuan (Wu Si-hua), Carolyn Chen (Ms Li), Lin Pei-hsin (Child monster) and Eugenie Liu (Adult monster). It is rated NC-16.

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” is one of those films that straddles the line between arthouse and mainstream cinema. Fortunately, it manages to combine the best aspects of both to deliver an unorthodox but entertaining movie that manages to melt diverse genres quite well. Thankfully, since “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” was shot in Mandarin, we can listen to it in its original language rather than a painfully dubbed version of the film.

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Highlights

Good performance by Deng Yu-kai

Newcomer Deng Yu-kai delivers a strong portrayal of the conflicted Lin Shu-wei, accurately conveying his feelings of helplessness when bullied and convincingly showing how his character changes as a result of the company he keeps. Oddly, the pitch of his voice is inconsistent from scene to scene. Nevertheless, we can empathise with Shu-wei and understand the choices that he makes, as unexpected as they may be.

Ren-hao (Kent Tsai) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Strong themes of humanity

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” is clearly influenced by “Lord of the Flies”. It portrays the innocence of youth as the default state of humanity, but also shows how people will behave when left to their own devices.

The teenagers are neatly juxtaposed against the two monsters and their actions, and this contrast is what reminds us of what it means (or doesn’t mean) to be human. And of course, the full spectrum of morality is on display throughout the course of the film, giving us a chronological progression how one can move from one end to the other.

Si-hua (Bonnie Liang Ru-xuan) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Highly stylised treatment

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” avoids the awkwardness of arthouse film angles but still manages to deliver distinct visuals that are markedly different from other commercial fare.

The dark humour and montages are also evident of the movie’s aversion towards mainstream cinematic devices. However, it works well by creating memorable visuals that go hand-in-hand with the darker themes of the story.

Si-hua (Bonnie Liang Ru-xuan) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Impactful and thought-provoking

While you may judge the characters for making questionable choices (imprisonment of another sentient being), you also sympathise with their fears. You can’t help but leave the cinema wondering if there could have been any other way this would have played out for the characters.

Shu-wei (Deng Yu-kai) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Letdowns

One-dimensional antagonist

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” falls flat when it comes to the antagonist. Beyond a cursory scene and some very clunky exposition to explain where the antagonist is coming from, there’s not much else that defines the character.

It’s the same note and same beat in every scene, and you can already tell who will provide the conflict for the main character from the beginning of the film.

Si-hua (Bonnie Liang Ru-xuan) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

Fairly predictable plot

You can see where the film is going halfway through Act One, thanks in part to the obvious antagonist. There are only so many possible resolutions for the film’s plot, and the treatment and style already rule out several of those endings.

That’s not to say that it’s a poor resolution, just that it lacks any mystery of how the film will end. However, it’s the journey there that really matters.

Ren-hao (Kent Tsai) is confronted by Ms Li (Carolyn Chen) in “Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)”. (Golden Village Pictures)

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” shows us the true meaning of innocence and humanity in an impressively stylised fashion. While it holds little surprises in terms of story, it’s buoyed by an engaging performance from its lead and strong messages that will leave it lingering in your subconscious long after you’ve left the cinema.

“Mon Mon Mon Monsters (報告老師!怪怪怪怪物!)” opens in cinemas:
– 28 July, 2017 (Singapore)

Marcus Goh is a Singapore television scriptwriter, having written for “Police & Thief”, “Incredible Tales”, “Crimewatch”, and “Point of Entry”. He’s also a Transformers enthusiast and avid pop culture scholar. You can find him on social media as Optimarcus and on his site. The views expressed are his own.

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