I’ve reviewed more of Mark Polonia’s films than I can remember, from Frozen Sasquatch to Noah’s Shark to Return to Splatter Farm they’ve covered all manner of subjects. But Reel Monsters is something different, it’s a kid’s film and as far as I know, the first one he’s made.
Cory (Dawson Hilfiger) moves around a lot because of his father Will’s (Shane Nickerson) job, we’re not sure what it is, just that he isn’t in the military. Along with his mom Beth (Natalie Himmelberger, Jurassic Shark 2: Aquapocalypse), they’ve just moved back to Will and Beth’s hometown. He’s made friends with some fellow film buffs at the school, Boone (Nicholas Owen, Shark Encounters of the Third Kind), Sandra (Sohpie Guss, The Cannibal Killer: The Real Story of Jeffrey Dahmer), and Millie (Grace Hines). He also gets on the good side of one of the teachers, Mr. Kapatelis (Titus Himmelberger, Virus Shark, Amityville Island) and the wrong side of the school’s bullies.
But everything changes when his father mysteriously disappears and, while looking for clues, Cory stumbles upon a reel of super 8 film his father shot. Footage of a Sasquatch.
The script is from frequent Polonia collaborator John Oak Dalton (Scarecrow County, Dune World) from a story by Paige Kay Davis (Red River) and Michael Raso whose name is a bit of a surprise to see here as his other writing credits are for films like Kinky Kong and The Erotic Witch Project. Reel Monsters’ script flips back and forth between the present day and forty years prior when Will (Lucien Limberg, Ragmork) was growing up, which provides some context and background to what’s going on now, and how they’re connected.
Unfortunately for those drawn in by the giant shadow on the poster for Reel Monsters, Bigfoot doesn’t get a lot of screen time. The film unravels the mystery around the footage, Will’s disappearance and the two armed men staking out the house and following Cory, but the big guy mostly stays out of sight until the film’s final act.
This is not to say Reel Monsters is boring. As an adventure film for kids, it did a good enough job of holding my attention, better than some of Polonia’s films for adults, actually. Granted it’s fairly obvious that the film’s car chase was shot at about 40 MPH rather than high speed, but if you’ve seen any of Mark Polonia’s films you know that’s to be expected.
There’s nothing in Reel Monsters that I can see really scaring most kids, or at least any that are used to watching television. Keep them entertained and in a bit of suspense maybe but it never really puts the main characters in much danger. And what little violence there is stays off-screen. There’s also nothing that most parents would find objectionable. Compared to how most high school kids talk, the kids in Reel Monsters have a pretty clean vocabulary. About the worst, I heard was a comment along the lines of “I bet he has two fathers”.
There is a reference to drinking and, like in most films of this nature, they lie to their parents about being at a friend’s house so they can go camping. But they do tell Bobbi (Hannah Guss), Boone’s adult sister so they’re not being totally reckless. And, despite two of the characters being a couple, there’s not so much as a kiss to be seen.
Reel Monsters is a harmless and inoffensive film that should keep kids amused. Older kids and adults may not find it as entertaining though. It’s available on various Digital platforms from Vision Films. You can check their website for more information.