Serial killer horror films generally hail from two sub-genres of horror: slasher films and psychological thrillers. Slasher films are usually focused on the blood and guts of the kills, like the Friday the 13th franchise, Slumber Party Massacre, and Sleepaway Camp. Psychological thrillers like Psycho, Session 9, and the original Halloween are more focused on the mind of the killer, terrorizing us with how a person can be so detached from humanity. A Brilliant Monster hails from the psychological thriller end of horror films, but with enough of a twist to keep the sub-genre interesting and the audience on its toes.
A Brilliant Monster is the story oft Mitch Stockridge (played by Dennis Friebe), a local self-help author pushing to become a national fixture in the literary world. But where does his inspiration come from? His last girlfriend, Sophie (played by Alea Figueroa) knows, but is the truth believable? There’s a lot more depth to the plot than that, but any deeper and we’ll be in full-on spoiler territory.
One of the best things that A Brilliant Monster does is set a tone that can be both funny and extremely disturbing at the same time. It’s a balance that runs through the script, the acting, and the shooting. With the script, we have the idea of a self-help author being a serial killer, which sounds ridiculous. Someone who has devoted their writing talents to helping other people cope is actually killing people to cope himself? It’s a perfect paradox to structure a psychological thriller film around, giving us suspense that seems to hail from the Hitchcock school of film mixed with the off-center insanity of Frank Henenlotter films like Basket Case.
Most of the acting helps this paradox as well, because it grounds the film when it brings in comic relief. This is particularly true of Mitch’s childhood friend, Nick (played by Nick Leali), who breaks up Mitch’s dry, psychotic wit with, for instance, a joke about marriage and Costco.
The production itself is top-notch, to the point that you wouldn’t know that it was mostly self-funded by writer/direct/producer F.C. Rabbath. It has the slick cinematography of a big-budget psychological thriller along with great special effects for Mitch’s “inspiration.”
A Brilliant Monster has a planned release in February of 2018, probably with a pile of film festivals in store for us. However you can see it, do it.