Monster Mayhem 《异兽来袭》(Chen Haifan, 2017)

An UFO lands in a mountain area close to a skiing resort. The resort is almost abandoned due to the arrival of the summer. A caretaker of the resort has guests at his place but very soon the summer paradise becomes a hunting ground for the alien monster that arrived with the UFO but egoistic thinking also threatens the group who now must keep together in order to leave the place alive.

Monster Mayhem is an typical example of how the non-existent rating system in China is making it really hard for independent and/or small-budget filmmakers to make a decent production. Especially in genres such as horror or science fiction. Since Monster Mayhem doesn’t deliver a masterpiece narrative the film can’t rely on spectacular cinematic elements such as gore or tension that relies too much on horror genre conventions. So, devoid of everything that could make it watchable Monster Mayhem is lost among hundreds of other Chinese small-production features which only lasting impression is its supercilious use of the words “monster” and “mayhem” in the title.

Even simple plot elements such as why did the alien land here his being overlooked and leaves big plot holes such as “how can a four-legged creature manage to drive an interstellar spacecraft?”. Something that could be avoided if there was an exaggerated use of kitsch elements that could divert our attention elsewhere. Instead we are left with the quarrel between an abusive mother and her rebellious teenage daughter which doesn’t seem to be based on anything at all and adds nothing to the narrative except that the director can say that he actually directed some acting.

The only interesting thing in the film is the selfish and rich (called a fuerdai/富二代 – person with rich parents – in the film) character who becomes the second antagonist by trying to sacrifice all other for his own safety. Interesting because if critique is being aimed towards the rich in China it would be more subtle. In this film it’s outright blunt and honest.

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