Bedtime Reading

Book of Monsters celebrates horror cliché without doing anything eccentric with them. Cliches sit in the story as derivative through character tropes: The materialistic, conservative bitch, the sensitive girl, the desperate virgin guy, and a party of full of teens, all placed as such for the sake of splatter.

It’s mostly energetic. The initial burst of monsters smash through the front door, ripping bodies in two, pulling out intestines, and tugging on a few heads. Splendid stuff, with the right level of British comedy inset to play against the gore.

Then the plot, of which there isn’t much of one. Book of Monsters follows Sophie (Lyndsey Craine) on the edge of her 18th birthday. Turns out creatures spawned from an Evil Dead-like, flesh-bound book and need her blood. It’s all a compartmentalization, packing in those fears of becoming an adult, staring at the coming-of-age theme through the eyes of raw evil.

The sense of humor is there, timed well to get a few laughs from dialog and the explicit violence

By the end, Sophie and friends find their weapons. The usual lot: chainsaws, swords, pipes, and ax. Together, they stare down adulthood’s panic, then literally cut through those tensions. It’s familiar, and even if Book of Monsters acknowledges such, that doesn’t coat the redundancy. Book of Monsters came together as a Kickstarter project, an attractive proposition as a throwback; it’s pure ‘80s, with practical monsters abound and music to recall the decade.

However, this is a more progressive touch. Sophie is gay, and the immediately unlikable girl spews bigoted hate. Although not entirely feminine (Book of Monsters was written and directed by men), it does avoid slathering the screen in senseless nudity. One tease is all, instead playing to a more rational sense of horror.

Shot on the cheap and well contained, Book of Monsters feels content with itself. Blood and mayhem inject some energy, if not enough to prop up downtime and slow exposition. The sense of humor is there however, timed well to get a few laughs from dialog and the explicit violence. Everyone acts with a certain indignation toward their circumstance, giving a nod to the absurdity – if, maybe, not enough so. Book of Monsters features a male stripper using a dildo to fend off possessed garden gnomes. Then, that’s contrasted by dry, serious conversations that too often don’t play into the inherent goofiness.

Or, maybe that’s just adulthood creeping in. Fun fades. Time to grow up. These girls will do so with a chainsaw.


A lot of banding runs through Book of Monsters. Backgrounds fill with hard gradients. That’s not helped by noise, digital cinematography flush with artifacts. That’s possibly caused by the source or this Blu-ray encode; there’s no way to know without asking those involved. Either way, both noise and banding combine to create a messy presentation.

This isn’t a loss. Plenty of detail slips in. Facial definition stands out, full of natural, sharp texture. Resolution stays visibly high without any lapses. In everything it’s doing, Book of Monsters is definitely consistent, for better or worse.

Take the black levels. They never really catch, leaving things flat and a touch gray. That won’t change for the entire runtime. On the flipside, contrast hits a pleasing high, generating some depth where black levels won’t.


Listed as a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix but noted by the receiver as the rarely seen Dolby Digital 6.1 EX, Book of Monsters employs an effective mix. Surround use is plentiful and remarkably authentic. A police car’s sirens approaching the house sound as if it’s legitimately happening outside the movie. Chaos at the party sends screams and dialog around the soundstage. Monsters roar and doors shut in the various channels, astute positioning for such a tiny budget.

If there’s a whiff, that’s LFE. The sub never activates, even with an explosion and thunder. Nothing generates weight or power.


Director Stewart Sparke and writer Paul Butler provide the first commentary, with the cast gathered for the second track. An hour-long making of is excellent, and because of the indie origins, this group is far more open about the production than similar features from major studios. Fourteen deleted scenes run 18-minutes and include an alternate ending. A gag reel is a definite watch at five minutes with some grand errors. The Kickstarter promo video appears next, with a short film titled Rats! up next. Two interview segments and trailers bring us to the disc’s end.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Book of Monsters
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A mix of cheeky horror and careful themes, Book of Monsters skirts the greatness of indie horror but falls to its overplayed cliches.

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