MONSTERLAND (2020) – A low concept look at the monsters amongst us


Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2

Monsterland is a new eight episodes anthology series from HULU. Released in the month of Halloween and with a title like Monsterland, one can be forgiven for conjuring images of unimaginable horrors to spend some nights curdling up on the TV couch to binge watch. I feel I need to give you a bit of a reality check here to manage your expectations in case you have not seen any episodes of Monsterland. Don’t expect to see tales of werewolves, vampires, or other obvious monsters here. Each episodes instead deals with very real and very human issues such as poverty, depression, suicide, loneliness, guilt and so on, and how this can turn decent humans to commiting “monstrous” acts. To make things “interesting” the stories  often have the main character encounter various forms of unexplainable apparitions. Whether these apparitions are a figment of their imagination of “real” within the context of the story is open to the viewers’ interpretation. It really puts a different perspective to the word Monster, and I think the series’ title is really quite appropriate.

I have to admit that I was not expecting this from HULU who have so far been churning out more conventional horror stories. After watching all the episodes here, I have mixed feelings for the series. While I admire the production team for their boldness to venture into territories that are often unpleasant and grim, and the creative ways in which they chose to tell each story, each episode left me a bit confused with a “what the f*** just happened here” feeling. This need not necessarily be a bad thing because I have always welcome weirdness and creativity. It often feels fresh to witness something different especially when there is a unique tale to boot. However, watching 8 of such episodes back to back is numbing and towards the later episodes, frustrating as each story requires the viewer to ponder and interpret the story with a broad mind. I like weirdness but I also like my stories to have a proper closure most of the time. Here, every episode deliberately ends abruptly leaving the viewer open mouthed and pondering long after the credits have rolled. 

So, full marks for the creative talents involved, the originality shown and the overall excellent performances. However, I deduct points for the bad after taste that each episode gave me. I would have been far more generous had this been just a one full length feature in which case its uniqueness and impact would have been more palatable for me.

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