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The Independent Critic

Christina Yr. Lim, Jake Macapagal, April Rose Estoy, Leonard Olaer, Jessica MacCleary, Dana Jamison, Andrew Reiley
Randal Kamradt
89 Mins.
Indican Pictures

 Movie Review: The Monsters Without 
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Don't let the 2.5/4.0 star rating fool you. I had a blast with writer/director Randal Kamradt's delightfully weird and wonderful indie monster/horror flick The Monsters Without, a film that is both obviously inspired by a variety of other flicks while also being wholly unique. 

Set in the Philippines, The Monsters WIthout exists in a world where monsters, known as Yablo, and humans peacefully co-exist. The Yablo have assimilated toward human life and take such forms that they are often unrecognizable. When an ancient Yablo called Nameless (Nick Medina) lands on the planet and threatens to forcibly gather all the monsters and return them to another dimension a rag-tag group of scientists named P.H.A.S.E. jump into action in order to defend the Yablo. 

Led by Setsuko (Christina Yr. Lim), P.H.A.S.E. also includes Setsuko's fiance Rommel (Jake Macapagal), Rommel's sister Wonder (April Rose Estoy), a new recruit named Miranda (Jessica MacCleary), Americans April (Dana Jamison) and Richard (Andrew Reiley), and intern Benito (Leonard Olaer). 

My guess is that by now you're already thinking of other similar films. 

Because The Monsters Without is set in the Philippines, the film is rich in the nation's rural folklore and customs. I'm not sure I ever realized that I needed a Filipino Troma film but, hey, I learn something new every day. That's about the best way I can describe this incredibly spirited yet obviously low-budget film that is set for an April 28th limited theatrical release with Indican Pictures. 

If you would choose to participate in a drinking game while identifying all of the film's cinematic nods, you'd end up mighty intoxicated. They're abundant yet integrated so enthusiastically into the film's tapestry that you can't help but get caught up in the spirit. 

Kamradt devoted himself to using quite a bit of Filipino talent both on-camera and behind-the-scenes. For example, this is the first film for production designer Jerime and it's a tremendously inspired debut. The film possesses a social justice heart and it beats throughout the film's 89-minute running time. While I unfortunately saw the film in the comfort of my home, The Monsters WIthout is most definitely a film to see on a big screen with a spirited crowd. There's much to love here. 

Films are not always about being perfect cinema. Quite often, films are as much about the experience of watching the film and Kamradt has crafted a film that is truly a unique, inspired, and thoughtful cinematic experience. By the time the closing credits were rolling, I was ready to watch it again (HINT: I did.). 

Yes, it's undeniably true that performances are a little hit-and-miss - that's most always true in low-budget cinema, however, this is a film meant to be an ensemble motion picture and it's clear this ensemble is having a great time. Frederek Duarte's lensing is creative throughout and Jacqueline Holden's makeup design is easily one of the film's true highlights. Benedict Nichols contributes an original score that captures both the film's off-kilter nature and it's social relevance. 

If you get the chance to check out The Monsters Without on the big screen, do so. I promise you the unique experience will be richly rewarding. If, however, you're like me and destined to eventually see it in your own home try to do so with a decent-sized screen and solid audio. With monsters that bring to mind the immersive worlds created by del Toro and a storyline that radiates for the Filipino culture while also allowing audiences to have a good time, The Monsters Without is a love letter to genre cinema and the wonder of the Filipino culture.

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic