On the surface, the recent trailer for A Monster Calls looks like The Iron Giant meets The BFG, but it is so much more than that. Based off of the 2011 novel written by Patrick Ness (“from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd”), A Monster Calls tells the story of Conor (Lewis MacDougall) a boy struggling to cope with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal illness and the bullies who torment him at school. Eventually, Conor is visited by the Monster (Liam Neeson) an enormous Groot-like being made out of trees, sticks and nature who comes to tell him stories. Through these stories, we get to learn about the grief and pain that Conor is facing with his mom, the bullies, his unsympathetic grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) and lack of a father figure. It is a story of dealing with inevitable loss and grief that is sure to leave audiences emotionally drained by the end.
If anything is going to sell this movie, it’s sure to be Neeson’s voice, undoubtedly one of the most recognizable in the industry. His voiceover throughout this latest trailer is both harrowing and uplifting, a voice of fantasy that represents the tragic reality that Conor faces. “Everyone facing big things in their life feels helpless like a kid,” said director J.A. Bayona (The Orphanage) when describing the movie. “It’s very interesting when you tell the story through the eyes of a young boy who’s turning into a man. Everyday life doesn’t work as a fairy tale, and every kid should learn that as they grow up.”
This movie also benefits from looking absolutely gorgeous, a visual marvel that looks as breathtaking as The BFG, another movie about the relationship between a child and a larger than life creature. This ties back into the original novel, which was praised by critics not just for its deep story but also its Expressionist illustrations. There is something of a surrealistic depiction to this world, being beautiful but depressing at the same time. It likely fits in with how Bayona described the Monster itself: a destructive force but in the best way possible.
A Monster Calls will be distributed by Focus Features and is set for a release date of October 21st.