PARK CITY, UTAH – JANUARY 18: (L–R) Tommy Dewey, Melissa Barrera, Kayla Foster, Meghann Fahy, and Edmund Donovan attend the 2024 Sundance Film Festival “Your Monster” premiere at the Egyptian Theatre on January 18, 2024 in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Marc Sagliocco/Shutterstock for Sundance Film Festival)
By Lucy Spicer
“It’s hard to do a film like this justice by describing it or trying to categorize it in any way,” says Sundance Film Festival programming department manager Ana Souza before the January 18 premiere of Your Monster at the Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah. “It’s a film that’s really invested in reinventing its own genre rules and in exploring something that many of us — especially us women — don’t really get to embrace for all its potential: our anger.”
“It’s always encouraging for us to witness a first-time director taking risks and making something that really only they could have dreamed up,” continues Souza. “This film is really bold and memorable for those reasons.”
Writer-director Caroline Lindy’s daring feature debut is a genre-bending charmer that will keep you guessing. The story follows actress Laura Franco (Melissa Barrera) right as she’s wading through the messiest few weeks of her life — she’s recovering from a hospital procedure and a painful breakup with her serious boyfriend, and she has to do it alone, back in her childhood home. Oh, and apparently the monster she was scared of as a kid is real, living in her closet, and demanding her speedy departure.
“It’s rare when you get a script that you feel is completely original and has such a strong voice, so immediately I was intrigued,” says Barrera at the film’s post-premiere Q&A. After meeting with Lindy in person, Barrera was all in and ready for the tight 20-day shoot.
Lindy was unable to attend the premiere of Your Monster as it clashed with the imminent birth of her baby, but producer and actor Kayla Foster appeared in her stead, along with Barrera and other cast members who participated in the Q&A.
A big topic of conversation? The evolution of Your Monster, which started out as an eponymous short film released in 2020.
“The Your Monster short, it has these glimmers of this rom-com thing,” says Foster. “I think [Lindy] pulled out the mushiest parts of the short and put it up here and then added some blood, a little more blood, and some Broadway, and some chaos to it.” It’s a fitting description of a film that deftly juggles humor, romance, horror, and musical numbers while making a sincere statement about repressed rage.
Tommy Dewey, who played the monster in addition to acting as an executive producer, agrees that romance took the reins more often in the feature film. “I was in the short, in a cheaper mask, and I think the wit of it and the charm of this was there, but it wasn’t nearly as wildly romantic as [the feature] was,” he remarks.
Despite having to sit in a makeup chair for five hours every morning to complete his monster transformation during filming, Dewey — like the rest of the cast — is brimming with fondness for the project.
“I hate to be the shoutout guy, but I think it’s a testament to the kind of kinship on this [film], and what a team effort it was, that so many people that made this movie are here,” he says at the Q&A before encouraging everyone present who was involved in the project — and it’s a lot of people — to stand up from the audience seats. “This monster movie travels well!”