“Scare Monster” takes slapstick comedy, folds in an unstoppable villain then mixes it all together with a slick 80’s style synth soundtrack.
Children in Horror Movies typically fall into a familiar trope. They are depicted as flat, leering, idle, creepily staring into the distance (see the Grady Twins of The Shining, Damian in The Omen, or Charlie in Hereditary for example). This is done for practical reasons. To put it bluntly, children are not very versatile performers, so the less they have to do the better.
It’s best to tell the story around them, use the camera and music to build the tension, and take the pressure off the poor kiddos. And it’s often effective. The stillness of a child is unnerving; it creates an effective aura of foreboding danger. Ask any parent and they’ll tell you when the kids go quiet, that is the moment to raise the alarm.
There are obvious exceptions, and some young actors have churned out marvelous performances.
Linda Blair in The Exorcist immediately comes to mind, as does Macaulay Culkin in Good Son or Isabelle Fuhrman in Orphan. But those portrayals are not especially kidlike; there is an adult calculation to their performance.
Of course, this is also quite effective at raising the inner alarms of the viewer.
However, never (at least to my knowledge) has a kid-killer been portrayed with the same sweet honesty as the main villain in Scare Monster.
Like a hybrid of Michael Myers and Looney Tunes, she joyfully skips from victim to victim as if playing a game, blissfully unaware of the trail of bodies she leaves in her wake. Perhaps her cute charm is what allows her to lure her prey close enough for the kill, like a Venus Flytrap luring its victims with sweet nectar.
By allowing the children of Scare Monster the freedom to bring their sweet authentic selves, the short film creates a lovely contrast that makes this short a big-hearted horror-comedy that’s perfect for your Halloween viewing.