Words by Daniel Collins.
The Night Belongs to the Monsters fuses a coming-of-age story with atmospheric cosmic horror to achieve a startling effect.
Sol (Luciana Grasso) is an introverted newcomer in a suburban Argentinian school. In her school life, she is forced to suffer with bullies. Her home life sees her clash with her mother’s new and aggressively drunk boyfriend. She is fraught with abandonment and frustration. Sol’s lonely cycles around town and frustrated demeanour paint a genuinely layered and sympathetic character.
Unfortunately, the other ‘evil’ characters are not as effectively written. On the one hand, this sets up a satisfying conclusion. Full of gore, both Sol and audience alike can smile at their inevitable comeuppance. However this absence of effective characterisation outside of the protagonist undercuts the interesting themes of class raised throughout by only giving depth to the more affluent outsider, Sol.
Whilst this is a relatively minor criticism and does not harm the horrific excitement of the film, it does simplify the story. In fact it renders the many images of working class suffering and poverty-stricken life as mere parts of an expressive backdrop rather than as meaningfully fleshed out social commentaries.
Nevertheless, when the moments of horror do kick in they are deftly handled with vibrant cinematography and a melodic, pulsating synth-based score by Darío Ramos Maldonado. Moreover, the pairing between Sol and her unlikely supernatural helper is gleefully endearing.
Ultimately, whilst it has missed an opportunity to explore more deeply the life of suburban Argentina, The Night Belongs to the Monsters is worth viewing for its sheer entertainment value alone. Dealing with relatable themes such as bullying, the film is a low-key piece of vengeful fun, perfect for casual viewing.