Sometimes an absurdist horror movie can be a welcome relief from a formulaic one. However, when the absurdity itself is just thrown in carelessly, it actually harms the material more than it helps it. MONSTER MAN is a movie that is largely formulaic, yet director/writer Michael Davis inserts random moments of absurdity in the hopes that his zaniness will be recognized as uniqueness. The end result is mixed.
Again, the story is quite simple. Adam, a pathetic virgin loser, embarks on a road trip through the desert to reveal his true feelings to a girl he has always crushed on. Of course he plans to tell her this…at her wedding. Now, I understand that movie clichés 101 requires Adam to take a sidekick on his journey, maybe even a sidekick named Harley (Justin Urich) who is supposed to be cool, but really looks like Dave Navarro 50 pounds overweight. But Harley the sidekick is introduced to us in a way that is utterly unbelievable – and that’s even by bad horror movie standards: Adam is driving along when, all of a sudden, the audience sees a dark figure behind him in the back seat. The figure lunges at Adam with a large knife and Adam runs the car off the road almost crashing the car. Oh that crazy Harley. What a funny guy, trying to STAB his best friend!
Harley is Adam’s supposed friend yet he continually rips on him for the things that make Adam lame: the fact that he is following some chick who never considered him more than a friend, for being a virgin at 26 and for just being a general dweeb. Well guess what? The audience could have already figured out that Adam is lame without the need for a character reminding them every five minutes. And this guy Harley is grating on the nerves, sort of like the way Phillip Seymour Hoffman was in TWISTER. I hated Hoffman in TWISTER, but now he is one of my favorite actors, so by the transitive property that makes Justin Urich the next Phillip Seymour Hoffman…
While on the road, the two boys encounter an incredibly sexy hitchhiker, Sarah, played by Aimee Brooks (think a poor man’s Elisha Cuthbert) and right away Harley tries to mark his territory with his “I’m a fat slob, but you love me” way, while Adam professes his love in a shy, “Non-Threatening Boy” manner. The love competitions then take a backseat as the travelers are suddenly and inexplicably chased by a large monster truck. The truck chases them, bumps them, and runs over innocent bystanders…but why? The driver of the truck is Monster Man, a Leather Face looking demon whose mouth is all sewn up and who walks with an awkward gait (must be why he chooses to drive).
I won’t ruin the ending, but there is a genuinely surprising twist (note: surprising doesn’t mean good). Monster Man apparently does have a reason why he has to run over all of these poor folks, but the reason is explained VERBALLY for nearly seven minutes -- seven minutes of talking about why this guy has been running over people!?
Enough bashing, now for a bright spot. There is one sick, twisted and absurd moment that I must admit is brilliant. Adam and Harley are lying in separate twin beds in a motel after having outrun the Monster Man. Adam wakes up to find a bloody, disgusting piece of road kill in his bed. Harley, on the other hand, clearly is having a dream about a woman as he is moaning and groaning. So, then Harley, still asleep, picks up the road kill from his chest and proceeds to…uh…service the open wound on this poor animal as if it were…Yeah, I’m serious. It was sick, twisted, and all those other PC things that I am supposed to say, but c’mon, that is also pretty creative. Which is something I cannot say for the scene in which sexy Sarah uses the Yoda voice during sex with Adam. Star Wars geek’s wet dream, an homage to George Lucas, or just plain stupid dialogue? You be the judge.
All in all, MONSTER MAN wasn’t the worst movie I have seen. It was shot like a WB show, which is pleasant on the eyes and makes you dream that Katie Holmes might crawl through any given open window throughout the movie. But I digress. Instead of throwing something random out there for the sake of being random, the director should have tried to have absurd moments that were relevant to the plot. It’s okay, at least we had that classic road kill moment. The movie is never actually scary, but it does deliver on the grossness factor as there are some truly disgusting and bloody parts, especially at the end. So lots of blood for all you blood people, yet sadly no real nudity for you nudity people. Worth a look…
Rating: ** (out of 4)