A Monster Calls: A Review

A Monster Calls is a 2016 dark fantasy drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and written by Patrick Ness, based on his novel of the same name.

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thirteen-year-old Conor (Lewis MacDougall), who attempts to deal with his mother’s (Felicity Jones) impending death from cancer through visits from a monster (Liam Neeson) that takes the form of a towering Yew tree. Based on the 2011 novel by Patrick Ness, A Monster Calls is a remarkably moving and visually arresting film that grapples with grief, faith, and hope in ways that are both brutal and beautiful.

While the film is certainly not appropriate for younger viewers, its themes of loss, love, and what it means to be human will resonate with audience members of all ages. MacDougall is outstanding as Conor, conveying the character’s pain, anger, and fear with raw honesty. Jones also delivers a heartbreaking performance as Conor’s mother, who is fighting for her life while also trying to be strong for her son. Neeson’s voice work as the monster is both gentle and menacing, and his scenes with MacDougall are some of the best in the film.

Visually, A Monster Calls is a feast for the eyes, thanks in part to the stunning cinematography of Oscar Faura (The Impossible). The use of color is particularly effective in conveying the different moods of the film, ranging from the bleakness of Conor’s reality to the vibrancy of his imagination. The production design by Eugenio Caballero (Pan’s Labyrinth) is also top-notch, creating a believable world that feels both real and surreal at times.

Bottom line: A Monster Calls is a moving and visually arresting film that will resonate with viewers of all ages.

The Plot

13-year old Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is dealing with more than the average pre-teen. Not only is he processing his mother’s (Felicity Jones) terminal cancer diagnosis, but he is also being terrorized by a giant, ancient creature that only he can see. The monster, who takes the form of a yew tree (voiced by Liam Neeson), visits Conor three times and tells him three stories in an effort to help the boy come to terms with his mother’s impending death. A Monster Calls is based on the novel of the same name by Patrick Ness, who also wrote the screenplay.

The Characters

The three main characters in “A Monster Calls” are Conor, his mother, and the monster. Conor is a young boy who is struggling to deal with his mother’s terminal illness. His mother is a kind and caring woman who is slowly dying from cancer. The monster is a creature who comes to Conor in his time of need and helps him to deal with his mother’s death.

each of these characters is well-developed and believable. They each have their own motivations, fears, and desires. The reader can empathize with them and understand their actions. The characters are also active participants in the story, rather than passive observers. This makes for a more engaging and emotionally powerful story.


The novel A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is an exploration of the themes of grief, loss, and love. The story follows the main character, Conor, as he copes with the death of his mother. Throughout the novel, Conor is visited by a monster who helps him to come to terms with his mother’s death.

The novel explores the theme of grief in a very raw and honest way. Conor is struggling to deal with his emotions and is often angry and resentful towards those around him. He lash out at his classmates and teachers, and he struggles to find comfort in anything. However, through his conversations with the monster, Conor begins to understand his grief and how to deal with it.

The novel also deals with the theme of loss in a very honest way. Conor is dealing with not only the loss of his mother but also the loss of his childhood. He is forced to grow up much faster than he would like and has to face some hard truths about life. The monster helps Conor to see that even though he has lost something, he still has much to live for.

Finally, the novel explores the theme of love in a very beautiful way. Even though Conor’s mother is no longer alive, he still loves her very much. He remembers all of the good times they had together and how much she meant to him. The monster helps Conor to see that love never dies, even when someone dies.

The Setting

The story is set in England, in an unspecified time period that appears to be around the early-to-mid-20th century. It follows a young boy named Conor O’Malley, who is dealing with the terminal illness of his mother. The story is told through a combination of flashbacks, dreams, and present-day events.

The Writing

The writing in “A Monster Calls” is beautiful. It is simple, but at the same time very complex and deep. The author uses a lot of symbolism and metaphors to explore the themes of the book. The book is also very well-paced and the author does a great job of building suspense.

The Visuals

The visuals in A Monster Calls are quite simply some of the most gorgeous ever put to film. Every shot is meticulously composed, the colors are absolutely stunnning, and the CGI is used sparingly but effectively. The movie is a feast for the eyes, and it’s one of the few films I can say that about.

The Music

The Score
The music in A Monster Calls is by British composer Patrick Doyle and was his first collaboration with director J.A. Bayona. The score won the Goya Award for Best Original Score and was nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA award.

The music is very important to the film, with Bayona saying that “the score is like another character in the movie”. It is often used to represent the emotions of Conor, the film’s protagonist, and helps to convey the film’s atmosphere.

The score features a number of traditional instruments, including the Irish tin whistle, fiddle, and bodhrán, as well as more unusual choices such as the waterphone and hang drum. These instruments are used to create an otherworldly sound that reflects the magical elements of the story.

The Emotional Impact

A Monster Calls is a 2016 British-American drama film directed by J. A. Bayona and written by Patrick Ness, based on his novel of the same name. The film stars Lewis MacDougall, Sigourney Weaver, Toby Kebbell, and Felicity Jones.

The film follows 13-year-old Conor (MacDougall), who attempts to deal with his mother’s (Weaver) terminal illness and the bullying of his classmates by seeking the help of a 30-foot-tall monster who visits him at night.

Critics have praised the film for its emotionally honest depiction of grief and loss, as well as its visually arresting style.


With its masterful blend of fantasy, fairy tale, and reality, A Monster Calls is a book that will resonate with readers of all ages. Even though the story is painful at times, its ultimately uplifting message about grief, love, and loss makes it a truly special book.

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