Girl vs. Monster
Take a little bit from Hocus Pocus, a little bit from Ghostbusters, and a scandalously unused title, mix it all up, and out pops a kids vs ghosts adventure that deals with the nature of fear. Disney Channel Original Movie Girl vs. Monster features children standing against the fears that cripple and control their lives, preventing them from becoming their full potential. Of course, all these fears are just simple things represented by ghosts/monsters making fun of them, but to a teenager, that’s totally the worst thing ever. Sometimes, it’s the simple things that are the biggest problems.
The monsters/ghosts are technically manifestations of fear of the living, though they essentially act like ghosts as far as the plot is concerned. They haunt you in your lives, making you more scared, from which they grow their powers. Yeah, it’s a sort of weird Monsters Inc. thing going on, and it doesn’t really make much sense when you think about it too hard. In fact, the lead character Skylar Lewis’ fear monster is the queen evil witch Deimata, and because she’s been trapped for the past 15 years, Skylar knows no fear. Like Daredevil. But then Deimata is released and Skylar is suddenly afraid and the witch is looking to possess her soul. Like Ben Affleck.
The fear equation seems like it is some sort of statement about not having fear control your life. Skylar’s friends are all cowards of various degrees, thanks to their own monsters who haunt them, controlling their lives by making them to afraid to try much of anything. The handsome boy Skylar is crushing on knows no fear, thus he’s popular. Eventually, the scared kids learn to fight back, confronting and conquering their fears by bullying them in turn. Luckily, all their fears are easily deflected, and the ghosts that haunt them dumber than a wet bag of rocks, so the worm turns quickly. There is no real fear, no real horrors, no kids shocked so traumatically they desire to end their lives or live forever entombed in their own minds. This is an entirely fictitious representation of fear, which makes it ring hollow. I understand that they were trying to make a point, but they end up just making a blunt object. Yet blunt objects can still drive in nails.
The squeaky clean world of Disney would never allow the horrors of reality to scar their channel and their audience of pre-tweens. Their Official Disney Kid Replicant Factory is hard at work churning out the next generation of clean upper-class California cool kids, all magically ethnically diverse yet having identical faces. This entry’s model is Oliva Hold, who looks the part so well it is as if Disney crafted her from the bodies of the failed earlier models. She’s joined by Brendan Meyer and Kerris Dorsey, who stand out for not fitting the normal Disney profiles, but they only deviate enough to be In Universe acceptable as the target of bullies. The love interest shares no such deviations, he’s Ryan Dean (Luke Benward), and not only is girl melting handsome, but also the leader of the bland rock band that everyone goes gaga for. And his character is saddled with a low-rent Sharpay from High School Musical as a girlfriend. Katherine McNamara rises above her role, but she has little to work with. Until she’s taken over by the evil Deimata, at which point things become cool for a brief period. McNamara is the break out star in my opinion, which is the correct opinion.
Skylar’s ultimate ambition is to sing with Ryan in his band, a chance she has, though the monsters come to ruin things. OMG, what will Skylar do if Ryan thinks she’s not the coolest girl in the universe? Probably just die.
None of this rich kid problems talk is really what Girl Vs. Monster should be remembered for. The simple fact is the villains make the story, and Deimata is a formidable opponent. Her looks and her story makes the Hocus Pocus comparison’s inevitable, so let’s just get it out of the way and say she doesn’t compare to the three sisters from that flick. Her character is different, as is her interactions with her two ghost pals, Anna Galvan as bitter old school marm Theadosia and Stefano Giulianetti as a creepy scarecrow Bobb (neither are credited with their names, I had to pull them from dialogue!) Just why those two work with her is a mystery, perhaps Deimata has great power and they like being around that. Or maybe they’re old friends and have been together for countless child hauntings. In any event, it’s lucky that the children they haunt are friends with Skylar. Or maybe its more than a coincidence. Maybe it’s destiny. Or maybe this whole thing was a setup by Skylar’s mom to teach her about her destiny as a monster hunter by putting the entire town in danger. Always bet on conspiracy!