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Sundance movie review: 'Your Monster' a winning horror comedy for Melissa Barrera

Tommy Dewey and Melissa Barrera star in "Your Monster." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Tommy Dewey and Melissa Barrera star in "Your Monster." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

PARK CITY, Utah, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Scream franchise star Melissa Barrera has a winning new horror comedy. Your Monster, which premiered Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival, is a charming monster movie.

Laura (Barrera) is in the hospital for cancer treatment when her boyfriend, theater director Jacob (Edmund Donovan) leaves her. Laura moves back to her childhood home, where she reunites with the monster (Tommy Dewey) who lived under her bed and in her closet.

The monster is so casual it's whimsical. He's happy to see her again and makes her tea, but the living arrangement makes them an odd couple.

The monster messes with Laura while she does her chores, unplugging the vacuum cleaner to annoy her. They argue over the temperature and the TV channel but just like good natured roommate squabbles.

The monster isn't terrorizing Laura but he wants to terrorize the people who mistreat her. Laura has to audition again for the play Jacob wrote for her when they were together.

Laura (Melissa Barrera) and the monster (Tommy Dewey) are roommates. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Laura (Melissa Barrera) and the monster (Tommy Dewey) are roommates. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

She gets a role in the ensemble, but Jacob casts Jackie (Meghann Fahy) in the lead he'd originally written for Laura. It's funny when the monster badmouths the play, but the fake musical is rather catchy.

The monster encourages Laura to stop making excuses for people, even apologizing for them. It is a valid life lesson that will be relatable to many.

Laura (Melissa Barrera) is a musical theater star. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Laura (Melissa Barrera) is a musical theater star. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Since Laura is new at asserting herself, it comes out silly, which is even more endearing. The monster is a metaphor for Laura's repressed rage, but he's also literal as a supportive partner in her life.

As an adult, Laura gets closer to the monster than she ever did as a child. Their relationship blossoms in a naturally human way even though he is a monster.

Laura (Melissa Barrera) learns to express her rage. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Laura (Melissa Barrera) learns to express her rage. Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

The relationship is treated like Hollywood romantic comedy with a monster that makes it a mon-rom-com.

Writer/director Caroline Lindy offers a charming new take on childhood monsters and grown-up relationships. The charming cast makes this ambitious blend of tones work.

Tommy Dewey is "Your Monster." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute
Tommy Dewey is "Your Monster." Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001, and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012 and the Critics Choice Association since 2023. Read more of his work in Entertainment.