Taglines: Stories are wild creatures.
The monster does not come walking often. This time it comes to Connor, and it asks for the one thing Connor cannot bring himself to do. Tell the truth. This is a very touching story about a boy who feels very damaged, guilty and mostly angry. He struggles at school with bullies, and pity looks from everyone, and at home with his mother’s sickness. Will Connor overcome his problems? Will everything be okay? Will Connor be able to speak the truth?
The story opens with 13-year-old Conor O’Malley waking from the same nightmare he has been experiencing for the past few months, “the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming”. At seven minutes after midnight (12:07), a voice calls to him from outside his bedroom window, which overlooks an old church and its graveyard and is sheltered by a yew tree. Walking to the window, Conor meets the monster, a towering mass of branches and leaves in human shape. The monster insists that Conor summoned it, and that it will help Conor by telling him three short stories. In exchange Conor must tell his own story afterward.
The monster continues to meet Conor, almost always at 12:07 am, to tell its stories. Between its tales, which aim to demonstrate the complications inherent in humans, it is revealed that Conor’s mother is undergoing chemotherapy and has been afflicted with cancer for the past few months. His father is nowhere to console him, and a cold relationship with his grandmother provides no comfort either. Conor is a victim of bullying at school and he has distanced himself from all other social contact. As the story progresses, his mother’s condition worsens.
Conor’s encounters with the monster have escalating consequences. While the first story has no real impact on Conor’s life, the second story leads to being blamed for the monster vandalising his grandmother’s living room, and the third leads to physically assaulting Harry, the school bully, after brief possession by the monster.
When he is forced to tell his own nightmare, however, Conor finally begins to confront his feelings. Ultimately the monster comforts him, revealing that its purpose has been to heal him. The novel closes with Conor accepting his mother’s imminent death and the changes it will bring to his life. At 12:07, his mother dies in the hospital.
A Monster Calls is a Spanish – British fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona, based on the 2011 novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, who also wrote the screenplay and based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. The film stars Sigourney Weaver, Felicity Jones, Toby Kebbell, Lewis MacDougall, and Liam Neeson. The film is scheduled to be released on December 23, 2016, by Focus Features.
A Monster Calls
Directed by: J.A. Bayona
Starring: Toby Kebbell, Liam Neeson, Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver, Geraldine Chaplin, Lewis MacDougall, Jennifer Lim, Frida Palsson
Screenplay by: Patrick Ness
Production Design by: Eugenio Caballero
Cinematography by: Oscar Faura
Costume Design by: Steven Noble
Set Decoration by: Pilar Revuelta
Music by: Fernando Velázquez
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic content and some scary images.
Studio: Focus Features
Release Date: December 23, 2016