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Friday, October 10, 2014

Chris Dias' One Take "Monster in a House" a Fairy Tale Onscreen

"MONSTER IN A HOUSE" (2014)
Genre: Fantasy
Length- 13:54
Company: N/A
Website: Chris Dias' Official

Nine year old Miah (Kitana Turnbull) has only her imagination to serve as a buffer between her and her parents' troubled marriage.  Joe (Joseph Bottoms), her father, and Emma (Lisa Roumain), her mother, can't say two words to each other without arguing, and their discord is what awakens a faceless monster in their home . . . a monster that only comes out to play at bedtime.

 AMBITIOUS MONSTROSITY

"Monster in a House" is a clever, contemporary take on a classic fairy tale captured in one take.  Written, produced and directed by new filmmaker Christiano Dias, and delivered with impressive production values and consistent acting.   It's an ambitious shoot for anyone, but it's almost unheard of in student films. 

The story itself telegraphs its intentions from the first minute, thematically similar in some ways to Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.  However, unlike that well known film, the adults too come to grips with the fantastical elements on display in a particularly impressively realized finale.

It all makes for a fun film with a little tension sprinkled into the proceedings, and a clear sign that Christiano Dias is a filmmaker to watch in the future.

A couple fun little asides: first of all, check out the elaborate lighting in this short film.  It'd be complicated for even a big budget shoot, but more than that, it's all done IN REAL TIME -- it's a one shot take, remember.  Second, the main character's name is Miah.  (M)onster (I)n (A) (H)ouse.  

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  The metaphor was extremely obvious and because of that it lacked a little emotional punch, but the story kept moving at a good pace and the conclusion was effective.
Directing: 4 / 5.  In a one shot take, the director has to be REALLY on his game, and thankfully Dias and DP Michael Helenek realizes this and keeps impressive visuals on the screen throughout, finding dreamy wonder in the most ordinary of locations. 
Editing: 3 / 5.  Effective.
Sound/Music:  3.5 / 5.  The sound design was, on the whole, very good but I had a problem understanding Miah's last line of dialogue and had to replay it several times to finally figure it out.  The soundtrack by Daniel James Chan was also a little overbearing and "on the nose" for me to fully appreciate.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  Good performances all around the board, even from young Turnbull.  Bottoms is given the biggest emotional range to show off, and he does it like a champ.

Final Grade:  3.4 / 5.

Don't forget to visit Christiano Dias' official website, and more information will appear here when "Monster in a House" is available to watch online!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!