FILM: A Monster Calls
It might sound every bit like a horror film, but A Monster Calls is actually only a 12A – though it’s not your typical family film.
Liam Neeson voices the titular beast made from an ancient yew tree, which comes to life each night – almost like something Gandalf might befriend in Lord of the Rings.
The film, which blurs the lines between drama and fantasy, focuses on 12-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall), who lives with his young and ailing single mother (Felicity Jones).
Both mother and son share something of a penchant for monster movies, which is where his nighttime visits from the tree creature (or treeture) fit in.
Preteen Conor is a relatable enough character with his own set of woes to deal with. An aspiring artist, he’s close to his mother, but on the other hand, abandoned by his father, seemingly loathed by his po-faced grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and bullied at school by someone with a slap-worthy face.
“Expect an imaginative and visually striking story that covers valuable and beautiful life lessons.”
With a situation like that, a monster would understandably be welcome with open arms.
There are dark moments of treeture-based fierceness that are likely to spook youngsters, so I’d recommended you avoid taking sprogs any younger than ten — unless you want to punish them for being naughty, in which case, book now.
But aside from the mild terror, the film itself is full of valuable and beautiful life lessons that may fall on deaf ears for those too young to appreciate them.
However, for those of an appropriate age, they can expect an imaginative and visually striking story that covers everything from the importance of self-belief to honesty, and without being preachy, which is quite the accomplishment.
One seemingly education-hungry mother even took her baby along to see the film, perhaps hoping to instil some sense of artistic morality into the tot early doors – though the screams the young ‘un gave off suggested a nap and some milk may have been preferable.