If you think you seen it all — the GPS horror movie, the haunted cell phone zombie thriller, or the typewriter that makes dull boys go in search of sharp blades — think again. This time, it's a baby monitor that's imbued with bad vibes which send out more than just colicky distress signals.
Noomi Rapace, who came to the forefront after her performance in the Swedish "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy and remains there thanks to her work in Ridley Scott's alien prequel "Prometheus", stars in "The Monitor" as the rattled ex-wife of an abusive husband. In hiding with their young son, Anna's begins to feel the apartment isn't quite safe enough, so even though Andres is all of eight years old, she still believes a baby monitor is in order so she can keep tabs on him even when they're sleeping. The pale, withdrawn mom goes to her local electronics store where an equally pale and withdrawn geek squad dude sells her the demonic device.
Anna takes the monitor back to her bleak, grey-cast projects-like flat and sets up her new mechanism. It's anything but reassuring when almost immediately, terrible cries and screams of protest issue from the speaker — when Anna goes into the other room to investigate, she finds Andres is just fine. The next day, she goes back to the sallow-skinned, sad-eyed salesman.
Turns out Helge is a bit sweet on Anna, so he goes the extra mile to get to the bottom of the snafu — logically enough, he assumes it's interference, and suggests she change the channel… and go to coffee with him. Tentative romance — tethered by fear, mistrust, paranoia, and possibly ghostly shenanigans — begins to blossom.
Sounds bad, the way I describe it (or how anyone might describe it… the conceit is pretty silly), but The Monitor is actually one of the better psychological thrillers I've seen in awhile. While there are fewer characters and definitely less of a pure horror vibe, "The Monitor" reminded me a bit of the "Dark Water" remake (2005, starring Jennifer Connelly). Both films have the same gritty look and feel; both feature waifish and wan, yet ultimately quite strong, actresses; the mystery is absorbing. However, unlike "Dark Water" "The Monitor" is actually a suspenseful, well-directed film. Same basic premise, very different result.
Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson