“Monsters” (Shriekfest 2016): Monsters Terrorize a Not-Too-Distant Future in This Short Chiller


With Monsters (2015), director Steve Desmond delivers an impactful, emotional short film that skirts the boundaries of science fiction and horror in the same vein as classic episodes of The Twilight Zone. The short truly deserves this comparison because of its high quality and stunning climax.

Jenn (Caitlin Carmichael; the American Martyrs remake) is about to have her 10th birthday. She will share the time with her mother Marie (Ione Skye; Haunt), father Henry (Christopher Wiehl; The Devil’s Dolls), and older brother Isaac (Joey Luthman) in the same underground shelter where they have lived since her birth. Jenn stays in the safety of the shelter while the rest of her family forages for food and supplies in a land ravaged by monsters.

A young girl sketches beings  that have forced people to take underground shelter in the surprising short film Monsters.

As she grows older, though, Jenn wants her parents to make good on their promise that she can see what the outside world looks like. They are reluctant for her to do that, and Isaac tells her of the terrifying speed and cunning of the monsters that she pretends to slay with a wooden sword when the others are outside. She is determined to help her family in the outside world, though, proclaiming that she is not afraid of monsters.

Steve Desmond, working from a screenplay that he cowrote with Michael Sherman, does a marvelous job at the helm, with gorgeously framed shots and tight pacing that allows enough time for viewers to care for this obviously loving family before ratcheting up the suspense. The seasoned cast does a terrific job of making these characters feel like a real family in a very brief amount of time. Curtis Sherman’s cinematography is beautiful work and Nuno Malo’s score is stirring stuff.

Jenn (Caitlin Carmichael) uses her monster sketches for sparring practice.

You can watch Monsters  for free online at https://vimeo.com/143211613. You can also check out  Dreamingants.com, the official website for Steve Desmond and Michael Sherman. The site has a great deal of information about Monsters as well as other projects with which the duo is involved. Keep an eye on this filmmaking team, as Monsters shows great promise of things to come.

Monsters: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)


Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.