Sponsor

DVD Review - WE ARE MONSTER

True story of a racially charged prison killing.


Review by James McAllister

Directed by: Antony Petrou

Starring: Leeshon Alexander, Aymen Hamdouchi, Gethin Anthony



"With the focus squarely upon Stewart’s relationship with his own alter ego throughout, all of the supporting characters feel underdeveloped, which, frustratingly, makes it more than a little difficult to emotionally invest in the film as a whole."


On the 8th of February 2000, Robert Stewart, a known racist with a violent record, was admitted to Feltham Young Offenders Institute and placed in a cell with Zahid Mubarak, a petty thief who was six weeks from release. Having resolved to turn over a new leaf during his 90 day incarceration, Zahid couldn’t wait to walk free from Feltham and leave the whole sorry story behind him. Tragically though, Zahid was never afforded such an opportunity, as mere hours before he was due to be discharged, Stewart bludgeoned him to death in an unprovoked attack that sent shockwaves through the judicial system.
An unsettling but ultimately unfulfilling character study from debut director Antony Petrou, We Are Monster attempts to deconstruct Stewart’s mental mind-set in the hopes of uncovering the motivation behind his barbaric actions. Mostly set within Stewart’s (Leeshon Alexander, who also wrote the script) pernicious psyche, and told predominantly through flashbacks, the film portrays its protagonist as a solitary schizophrenic, tormented by his troubled upbringing and guided by bigoted beliefs.
Petrou's film is fuelled with an affectingly aggressive atmosphere. Leeshon Alexander’s imposingly intimidating central performance effectively echoes the startling savagery of Jack O’Connell in David Mackenzie’s Starred Up, while Fred Portelli’s piercing score and Simon Richards’ claustrophobic camerawork layer scenes of shocking and violent imagery with visceral intensity. Stewart’s childhood recollections, in particular, make for tough and unforgiving viewing.
No matter how menacing this monster may be though, it lacks muscle. From the start, Alexander’s script shows signs of weakness. With the focus squarely upon Stewart’s relationship with his own alter ego throughout, all of the supporting characters, Zahid (Aymen Hamdouchi) included, feel underdeveloped, which, frustratingly, makes it more than a little difficult to emotionally invest in the film as a whole.




discussion by