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mon mon mon Monsters
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mon mon mon Monsters

A couple of monsters from mon mon mon Monsters.



Year: 2017  
Director: Giddens
Producer: Angie Chai



Deng Yukai, Cai Fan-xi, Carolyn Chen, Liang Ru-xuan, James Lai, Tao Bo-meng, Ko Chen-Tung, Vivian Sung, Bruce

The Skinny:

Giddens humanizes all the monsters, including the teenage ones in school uniforms, in this clever and bloody horror-comedy. A surprising and very worthwhile genre combination from the You Are the Apple of My Eye director.

by Kozo:
Giddens (a.k.a. Giddens Ko) is an exceptionally popular Taiwan novelist, and his forays into cinema are a very big deal. Excited Giddens fans have loyally followed the making of his book-to-movie adaptations, most especially Giddens’ feature directing debut, the megahit You Are the Apple of My Eye (2014). However, the side effect to this rabid attention is that fans will sometime nitpick and complain about the differences between the page and the screen. Also, Giddens can’t surprise fans by adapting his published work because they already know how his stories end.

Enter Giddens’ second directorial feature mon mon mon Monsters, which is based on an original story that hasn’t been published, leaked, or disseminated anywhere. This combination of school bullying drama, black comedy, and bloody horror film is filled with hilarious, off-color moments but also unexpected characterization, cynical satire, and disturbingly dark elements. This is a film about some very bad kids, but the way Giddens develops them is compelling and accomplished. Also, Giddens turns his genre situation on its head, making the humans into the sociopathic monsters and vice-versa.

Lin Shu-wei (Deng Yukai) is the most unpopular student in class, and the target of the class bullies led by the charismatic Ren-hao (Cai Fan-xi). However, Shu-wei inadvertently joins the bullies when they run afoul of two demonic sisters who feast on human flesh in the dead of night. Somehow the group captures the younger monster, prompting Ren-hao to exclaim, “Owning a monster is awesome!” They imprison her in the school basement and start torturing her after discovering that sunlight causes her terrible pain. But the older monster is despondent at her younger sister’s kidnapping, and ventures into the night to kill anyone who reminds her of the boys. So, basically anyone wearing a school uniform.

mon mon mon Monsters has a moral stance but it’s layered with complex emotions and character details that are clever and relatable. Shu-wei is torn between joining his inhumane tormentors or helping a mass-murdering monster – not exactly a normal dilemma, but one that reveals much about Shu-wei and those around him. The boys may do horrible things like pull out the monster’s teeth to string them into a charm bracelet for Ren-hao’s sociopathic girlfriend (Liang Ru-xuan), but they’re also given sympathetic human qualities, and sometimes Wei seems to enjoy being their partner-in-crime.

Giddens knows how and when to give each character their due, and brings the same insight into youth that he showed in You Are the Apple of My Eye to mon mon mon Monsters – though he’s using that understanding in the service of a surprisingly dark and brutal film. Still, Giddens knows how to strike the right balance between his comedy and horror, staging his bloody kills with witty, sometimes lyrical grace. He also knows how to serve his fans, inserting callbacks or appearances by actors who appeared in his previous works.

Despite his outlandish story, Giddens shows the skill and confidence to create compelling cinema, and delivers an emotional climax that feels as fresh and clever as it does tragic and deserved. If Giddens sought to surprise audiences with mon mon mon Monsters, he certainly succeeded: This is an unexpected doozy of a genre mix and shows that Giddens can do much more than youth romance sagas. mon mon mon Monsters is not the rose-colored nostalgia of You Are the Apple of My Eye – this is a disturbingly funny portrait of unfortunate youth populated by the most foul and evil creatures imaginable. And also a couple of monsters that eat human beings. (Kozo, 4/2017)


• Review was originally published in April 2017 in the Far East Film Festival catalog for the Udine Far East Film Festival. Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2002-2018 Ross Chen