(This review may contain spoilers).
This was a movie I had very mixed feelings about seeing. While I did think it looked engaging and had a more unique plot, barring being based on a book, it also looked like it was going to be difficult to watch on an emotional level.
It was very easy to empathise with Conor and what he was going through, even though I didn’t have a chance to see what he was like before his mother fell sick. There were times I ached along with him, especially when it came to what was going on at his school.
As a viewer, I felt like the adults in Conor’s life didn’t really care about him; or at least not enough to really see him. I felt their decisions to let him get away with virtually everything ultimately did more harm than good; and as for his father, while I like the actor, I felt he consistently said and did the wrong thing. In many ways, his grandmother was the only adult (apart from his mother) I was able to empathise with.
It was good to see the visuals used in the stories the monster told Conor. I thought the story about the prince and the queen was particularly effective, especially as the tropes seemed turned on their heads.
The nightmare Conor had of his mother dangling over the pit was hard enough to see, even without the monster encouraging him to voice what he really felt. And even though he clearly felt guilty, it was impossible to blame him for how he felt.
On the whole, this movie was emotionally engaging to watch and although it dealt with some very tough subject matter, I thought the use of the fantasy worked really well. And while it was dark in parts, I thought that worked, as children do have real, dark issues to deal with.
I don’t think I’d watch this film again, but I felt it was worth watching the first time.