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Review: Stewart Sparke’s “Book of Monsters”

Demonic books, thunderstorms at night, monsters under the bed and killer gnomes… Book of Monsters is an old school format resurrected with a modern twist. Picture Night of the Demons set at an 18-year-old’s birthday party. Shot under Dark Rift Films and released to VOD on March 19th 2019 by Epic Pictures and Dread, Book of Monsters is the new feature film from director Stewart Sparke. Written by Paul Butler, viewers follow Sophie’s birthday party that quickly escalates into a bloodbath when monsters are summoned and converge on her home. Now, friends and foe alike must band together to send their unwanted party crashers back to the pits of Hell. Or die trying! Produced by Stewart Sparke, Paul Butler and co-producer Cal O’Connell, Book of Monsters stars Lyndsey Craine, Michaela Longden, Lizzie Stanton, Daniel Thrace, Rose Muirhead, Anna Dawson, Steph Mossman, Arron Dennis, Julian Alexander and Nicholas Vince. Book of Monsters is a good ‘turn your brain off and enjoy’ flick, a blood splattered popcorn movie that’s best viewed with a group of friends and some vodka.

Listen, I could get all sorts of metaphorical with this movie. Sophie isn’t always the most popular girl at school and her friends are the typical catty bitches that you’d expect in this age group. Speaking of age group, the majority of the actors playing high schoolers look like they’re already pushing 30’s, so I don’t know what happened with casting. Anyway, the demonic party crashers could easily represent the savagery that social circles enact on other people and within their own group. The monsters could also represent repressed urges that we don’t act on because we’re mostly decent human beings. But I don’t think Book of Monsters was made to be something that makes you think. As I mentioned above, it’s a good waste your time kind of movie, with a lot of appeal to gore hounds who thrive off of practical special effects. Book of Monsters‘ biggest hook is that it’s an onslaught of violence, and in my opinion, has a slight comedic aspect to it. As with movies like Hatchet, Book of Monsters is supposed to be scary, but comes off more like campy, silly fun. And, hey, that’s not a bad thing at all. We all can’t be US or Hereditary.

Book of Monsters was shot in England, so it technically classifies as “foreign horror” in the American home media market. I always love seeing the differences in style and technique from country to country. This movie, however, has the typical straight-to-DVD feel that brings me back to the mid 2000’s. If we time traveled about fifteen years into the past, Book of Monsters would absolutely have been a movie that I showed off to all my friends on a scary movie night. It features cinematography by Hamish Saks and editing by Stewart Sparke, and overall it’s a very high quality production. The acting is average for the most part, although I did notice a few delayed reactions during pivotal scenes or gore effects. This could be chalked up to editing mistakes or the hints of comedy that I mentioned above. Basically, Book of Monsters is exactly what you’d expect from a straight-to-DVD movie in this category, and yet it’s far from bad. It’s better than anything you’d find on Redbox. Stewart Sparke has a long history in horror and I have to say this is probably his most successful title yet.

I’d recommend checking this one out on VOD. It’s a fun splatterfest, and sometimes that’s all you need to be entertained. Final Score: 6.5 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)