“Monsterland” Review

Barbara Nitke/Hulu/TNS Kaitlyn Dever plays Toni, a down-and-out waitress in “Monsterland.”

It is officially October, the month where Halloween decorations line the store shelves, people everywhere begin picking out their costumes and streaming services promote their spookiest movies and TV shows. Fittingly, Hulu released their new horror anthology series “Monsterland” on Oct. 3. 

In preparation for this review, I watched the trailer a week prior to the show’s release and it was quite exciting. It led me to believe that this show would be great, spooky fun with interesting monsters and a great cast, however what I ended up watching could not be described as “spooky fun” in any way, shape or form. 

This show is a bleak look at the lives of everyday Americans. Yes, there are definitely monsters, but they are not the real focus in the series. They are not even the scariest parts, that title goes to the horrible things the humans go through. The monsters seem to be more metaphors than characters, and it is worth questioning if they are even truly relevant to the story.

I did enjoy the episode plot lines because I believe it is important to shed light on lives that are often overlooked, such as a young single mother struggling to get by or a teenager forced to leave school to take care of his family. These are very real stories for many people out there and they are stories that deserve to be told. It would just be nice if they could have been told without the lackluster monsters.

It is not that I have anything against horror. I actually adore horror movies and TV shows. This show is just not scary. I am not even sure how this can be marketed as horror when it is thrilling at its best and cringey at its worst. 

Despite the show’s many flaws, there are things to recommend in it. The cast is amazing and without their acting skills this show would be unbearable. It is a well made show with good directing and nice special effects. Although, this all feels a bit wasted on the shortfallings of the scripts.

This show is not necessarily badly written. The dialogue is fine, the characters are well rounded and the stories make sense. It just seems like the writers bit off more than they could chew with many of the episodes. The episodes are long, each one about an hour, yet some seem to end so abruptly. If the stories had been more fleshed out and the writers really committed to the usage of the monsters as a metaphor for the human’s problems, this show would have been taken from okay to great.

If you have watched literally every other horror series available to you and you are desperate for something to watch, then I would say go ahead and give this a try. If you are someone looking for a show to get you into the Halloween spirit and possibly provide some scares, do not waste your time. You are not going to finish these episodes feeling spooked, you are going to finish with a depressing outlook on life.

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