Written, produced and directed by Lee Galea, Monster Pies is an Australian story of the progressing relationship between two class mates. When Mike (Tristan Barr) is paired with new comer student Will (Lucas Linehan) for their English class project on Romeo and Juliet the pair embark on making a monster (Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man) film adaptation of the classic tale. And so their own tale begins as they discuss that just like their main character’s they too harbour more than just platonic feelings for each other.
Through the personas of Romeo and Juliet through Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolf Man, the closeted teens explore each other both physically and emotionally, both coming to terms with their attraction to the other.
Mike, has always been a social outcast but is drawn more and more out of his shell by the roguish Will, even taking the first physical move and kissing the roguish boy in an empty swimming pool before asking him to their school prom, only to be shunned in favour of the latter’s social presentation.
The reasoning for Will’s reluctance to stand out or to be subjected to negative attention is explained through the character’s backstory, his mother being taken care of within the walls of a mental care home, it’s unclear as to whether there is a biological cause for her mental absence or if it was a sudden internal withdrawal. What are clear though are the abusive mannerisms of Will’s father, which may or may not have had something to do with the predicament of the boy’s mother. Caught in the iron grip of his father’s close minded opinions the last thing Will wants the man to uncover is his sexuality and relationship with Mike.
However things take a nose dive when Mike’s mother discovers outtakes from the boy’s film project, depicting intimate moments shared between the two and undeniably displaying their romantic relationship. Realising his mum’s discovery and that she had proceeded to call Will’s father about it, Mike races to Will’s house only to discover his boyfriend and dad have had a serious fight and falling out. Trying to console his partner, Mike sits with will beneath an ominous looking tree as the two fall asleep together beneath the darkening sky. However, with the morning come the dire consequences of the boy’s circumstances.
The plot line of Monster Pies is very similar, if not almost the same as the LGBT film Watercolours (2008) in which a pair of stereotypes – an introverted nerd and a troubled stud discover each other before embarking on a secret relationship that ends in tragedy. The unoriginality of the Monster Pies’ script alongside the fluctuating acting standard of the cast, with the strong performance given by Lucas Linehan standing out strongly against the less convincing performances of Tristan Barr and Rohana Hayes (Mike’s mother) made the film predictable and somewhat unsatisfying.
However, the elements of truth present throughout this film, and others like it – that there are still many circumstances in which gay relationships have to be kept secret in order to survive bring home the truth that acceptance is not yet universal and that because of this there are many unhappy endings, as in Monster Pies. It’s important that one sees this side of the story despite it being a trial at times to see past the stereotypical characters, attitudes and situations, something that although doesn’t make for a great film, certainly makes for a chilling realisation that negative circumstances surrounding gay relationships have become so stereotyped that films made about such situations no longer do them much justice.
Monster Pies is recommended to those of you who are patient with your characters and settings, and in for an emotional catharsis of sadness.
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