Pål Sletaune‘s THE MONITOR (2011) is an unspectacular and difficult to follow horror-thriller. Noomi Rapace (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) stars as Anna, an abused homemaker who flees with Anders (Vetle Qvenild Werring), her son, to escape her abusive husband. The film didn’t leave any detail on how much of the abuse she and her son suffered from her husband, and even less about exactly who he is.
Anna is neurotic and could not stand to be too far away from her son. To feel more comfortable about leaving her son alone in his room, she purchases a baby monitor from Helge (Kristoffer Joner), a worker at an electronics shop and with whom she establishes a relationship.
Throughout the film, Anna begins to try and navigate psychological and emotional impact of her fears. She started to think that the “sounds” she heard on the monitor originated from another apartment, and the baby monitor just was picking up the interference, although the film eluded to the possibility of ghosts in the machine. Almost too soon the film started to lose its edge, and things became a bit more predictable, and this is what disappointed me about it.
Sletaune does an excellent job of defining the relationships between the character and audience in the film–Rapace and Jones perform exceptionally well in that these two have a thing for one another but does not burden the film by forcing Jones out to be the hero or subjecting the audience to needless romantic interludes. There are scenes that deliver a powerful impact (depictions of child abuse), but the rest of the film felt rather cold and stoic; this makes this review harsh, because after the first hour, which was really intense; there are gaps where she is trying to sort out if the horrible sounds she hears on the monitor plays out in reality–or just in her mind.
Overall, Monitor is still worth checking out. The first hour of the film is worth watching, and the acting performances are solid. The good parts of the movie are good. The rest is well a little disappointing. The film builds up just the right amount of tension and falls just short of being memorable.