Review by Camden Ferrell
Kill the Monsters is the newest film from writer/director Ryan Lonergan. This film has played at numerous festivals including Frameline42, Raindance Film Festival, and the Seattle Queer Film Festival. This movie is a highly ambitious political allegory that remains thoroughly thought-provoking even if it loses some of its original momentum.
This movie follows a polyamorous gay trio as their relationship is tested on a cross-country trip to find a doctor to treat one of their illnesses. This premise is interesting on its own, but the movie describes itself in the beginning as an American allegory, and this adds another layer of intrigue and ambition to this story.
Lonergan’s script is biting and sharp for most of the movie. However, it is significantly stronger in the film’s first act more than any other. He executes scenes with fast-paced dialogue and an impressive level of intelligence that engages audiences. He balances his witty dialogue with meaningful symbolism and allegorical quips that make this movie even more charming.
The cast of this film does a great job throughout. Jack Ball, Garrett McKechnie, and Lonergan make up the protagonists, and their chemistry and ability to create a sense of unease is fantastic. Their ability to subtly reflect the conflicting forces in American politics is interesting, and it’s a dynamic that is unique. These three men are also able to confidently and tenderly explore their own bodies and sexuality in a way that feels very natural and well-done.
This movie is a triumph in LGBT filmmaking. Lonergan has created complex homosexual characters that have other defining traits. While the movie contains plenty of sex, it’s seen as a positive exploration rather than a shameless fetishization of gay relationships. It’s all very well-done, and it’s executed with a certain level of care that really makes the relationship feel more emotionally thorough.
The allegorical nature of this film is quite brilliant at times. The movie takes place in the modern day, but it’s divided into chapters ranging from 1776 to 2017. There are countless references to historical events that make this film a detail and historically oriented experience that is rather exciting and fresh to see. The movie is able to boil down American political history to its bare essentials to deliver a great allegory about political divide and the destructive nature of such politics. It’s a timely story that is very reflective of our world today.
The movie unfortunately loses a lot of its momentum in the second act. This sudden change drastically changes the pace of the movie, but it does manage to recover by its third act. Aside from its second act, the film is edited extremely well. Lonergan (who was also the film’s editor) has a great sense of timing and demonstrates an ability to create rapid cut sequences as well as longer more contemplative scenes.
Kill the Monsters may be too ambitious for some audiences, but it’s a deeply rewarding experience for those willing to take the ride. It’s a fantastic American allegory that features strong writing and great performances throughout. There are a lot of layers and details to unpack throughout this movie, and it’s one of the more unique films to be released this year so far.
Kill the Monsters is now available on VOD.