Released in 2003, Monster is based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who became one of the few female serial killers on record. Serial killers are usually male, so Aileen’s story has an interesting female perspective you don’t often see in movies about serial killers.

Here’s the quick version without any spoilers: Wuornos is a prostitute who, in a desperate attempt to support her and her naive girlfriend (played by Christina Ricci), ends up having to defend herself against a john trying to kill her. Things turn deadly and Wuornos stumbles into her first victim with more to follow. Neither her nor her girlfriend are the brightest bulbs so things go awry in a variety of ways.

The screenplay is well adapted from the life of the main character with most of the timeline focused on how she becomes a killer and her dysfunctional relationship with pretty much everyone. The pacing gets a little slow at times while they’re building characters, almost a little too slow at times, but overall the film keeps things interesting.

The performances are the thing to really watch here, especially Charlize Theron who turns in an epic delivery of the main character. The makeup department did their homework on this one as her appearance is convincingly un-pretty and sloppy. Theron plays the character with a kind of cocky stupidity that drives the characters from one predicament to the next in a way that ratchets up the frustration leading to the anger behind the killings. Ricci’s character is also well played and makes you kind of want to kick her ass out for being so spoiled and lazy. She’s more a spoiled child to Theron’s angry redneck.

The directing is pretty well done with my only complaint being that the love scenes were a little gratuitous, repetitious and were a bit overdone. Aside from that, the movie is definitely worth seeing to learn more about this tragic story.

reviewed by Sean McKnight