Monsters of California Review: A High-Aim, Low-Hit Conspiracy Theory
Directed and co-written by Tom DeLonge, best known as the frontman of pop-punk band Blink-182, “Monsters of California” attempts to carve out its own niche as an ambitious amalgamation of teen comedy, supernatural thriller, and conspiracy drama. Yet, despite its lofty aspirations, it often stumbles in its execution, leaving audiences pondering what could have been.
The film follows the adventures of three teenagers—Dallas, Riley, and Toe—as they navigate a labyrinth of supernatural phenomena and government conspiracies. While the narrative initially promises a blend of youthful curiosity and eerie mysteries, it soon becomes apparent that the film is a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. It dabbles in horror, flirts with coming-of-age themes, and takes a detour into science fiction, all while failing to fully commit to any single genre.
The chemistry between the young actors is decent, offering moments of genuine humor and camaraderie that harken back to the teen comedies of the early 2000s. Particularly noteworthy is the character of Toe, who serves as the film’s comic relief, never missing an opportunity to channel his inner Pauly Shore in response to perilous situations. This ensemble’s synergy is one of the film’s saving graces, providing a much-needed counterbalance to its narrative shortcomings.
Known for playing a wide range of quirky characters, Richard Kind takes on a more scholarly role in “Monsters of California,” displaying a level of gravitas that adds a layer of complexity to the film. His performance, however, is not enough to elevate the overall experience, which is marred by a series of forced, drawn-out emotional scenes and a lack of thematic cohesion.
Visually, the film is competent, with crisp cinematography and a mix of practical and special effects that never betray its budget. The score, handled by DeLonge’s fellow Angels & Airwaves bandmate Ilan Rubin, oscillates effectively between electronic ambiance and Californian pop-punk, adding another layer to the film’s genre-blending aspirations.
That said, “Monsters of California” is a film that aims high but falls short. Its narrative is a patchwork of genres that never quite coalesces into a satisfying whole. Despite its flaws, it offers glimpses of potential, particularly in its character dynamics and visual storytelling, and we give a little credit for its ambition and the occasional bright spots in an otherwise uneven landscape.
RATING: 2.5 out of 5.
Monsters of California is available for rent or purchase.