[Review] Mudmonster [A Night of Horror]: Unexplained Mysteries Burden a Young Girl in Eerie Italian Horror Short

What’s a young girl to do when she has a mother that isn’t big on communication and interaction, a teen sister who worships H.P. Lovecraft’s fictional Old Gods, her father has recently passed away — and she begins seeing a strange, frightening creature outside her window? Writer/director O.B. De Alessi explores these questions and others in their Italian horror/fantasy short Mudmonster (2021), which won the awards for Best Lovecraft-Inspired Short Film and Best International Short Film Director for De Alessi at the recent Australian film festival A Night of Horror.

Fiamma (Mariandrea Cesari) spends a good deal of her time in her bedroom creating small monsters from mud, as other children might do from clay or a similar compound. When the titular creature begins staring at her through her window, she is initially frightened but soon starts suffering from physical ailments. Her mother Emma (Laura Bombonato) is otherwise occupied, and her sister Alba (Noa Zatta) rarely leaves her room where she plays loud music except for the occasional quoting of Lovecraft lines. Emma is basically left to her own devices, and that can’t be good for anyone.

De Alessi has done a fine job of bringing classic Italian gothic horror into the present in a timeless tale of childhood alienation, mystery, and wonder, as Fiamma suddenly finds herself immersed in a world of the unexplainable. The tone of Mudmonster combines a looming sense of unease and dread with a touch of fantasy. The family’s home and its muddy surroundings are gorgeously designed and framed, with fine cinematography from Piero Cioffi capturing the beautiful and the ghastly.

Fans of 1960s and 1970s gothic Italian fright fare, and anyone who appreciates eerie, eldritch films, should put Mudmonster high on their need-to-see lists as it makes its way along the festival circuit. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Mudmonster screened as part of Australia’s A Night of Horror International Film Festival, which ran online from October 18–31, 2021. 

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.