With We Monsters, Sebastian Ko examines who’s worse in a tough situation: the transgressive child who caused it, or the parents protecting her. Don’t be quick to call it, because the answer isn’t clear.
Self-absorbed and buffoonish Paul (Mendi Nebbou), an ageing newly-divorced musician, and his sour teenaged daughter, Sarah (Janina Fautz), are en route to summer camp when she asks him to pick up her schoolmate Charlie (Marie Bendig). Curiously, Charlie is already waiting on the road—in the middle of the forest where they’re driving. After a petty bicker in the backseat—over a boy, of course—Paul pulls over for a pit stop. The girls disappear, and Paul soon finds Sarah standing on the edge of a dam. She coolly tells him she pushed Charlie off.
Thus begins the drama as Paul and his ex-wife, Christine (Ulrike C. Tscharre), struggle with handling Sarah’s deed: how do they hide what she did—and how could they? And why is she so indifferent? We Monsters is a morality play oozing psychological dread worthy of a Hitchcock film, especially when Charlie’s volatile alcoholic father (Ronald Kukulies) comes around looking for her. One cover up leads to another, and soon Paul and Christine are in over their parental heads. But is the situation really what it seems?
A few spots are slow, but We Monsters still kept me riveted. The story for the most part is paced well, and the acting is really good. Andreas Köhler’s cinematography is beautifully understated and drab, letting the characters and the drama take center stage. About an hour in, Ko’s tense tone gives way to something decidedly dark, comic, and ironic—and it plays out nicely. Karma’s truly a bitch.
According to Variety, an American remake is in the works (http://variety.com/2016/film/news/we-monsters-remake-veena-sud-broad-green-1201701398/). Let’s hope it’s half as good, but I doubt it will be: We Monsters is not a story I see resonating with a mainstream American audience without some tweaking that changes the story and kills the mood.