“Colossal” boasts an array of impressive performers-Anne Hathaway (“Interstellar,” 2014) Dan Stevens (“The Guest,” 2014), and Jason Sudeikis (“Horrible Bosses,” 2011)-but that’s not the only reason the film is an exciting prospect. The film is directed by Nacho Vigalondo (“Los Cronocrímenes;” Eng.: “Timecrimes,” 2007), who’s consistently unafraid to try out bold new ideas. Even better? His ideas are a blast to watch, even if the sum of its parts is a film like “Open Windows” (2014) with a weak third act.
Fortunately, Vigalondo’s second feature-length English-language film is right on the money. “Colossal” radically addresses abuse, gaslighting, and the edges around learned helplessness by way of—you’ll need to sit down for this—kaiju. (If you just did a spit-take, that’s fine; it’s a completely normal reaction). Then again, “Open Windows” made a bold attempt to turn the structure of the found-footage thriller template on its head.
The director, in his signature style, marries dark comedy, psychological horror, and monster movie to create a hypnotic hybrid that creeps up on its viewers before they know what’s hit them—and, oh boy does it! Its first act leans in quite heavily to your Friendly Neighborhood Indie Romantic ComedyTM trope—a woman gets dumped, travels back to her hometown, and catches up with her childhood buddy. Sounds normal. A bit too normal.
Just when you’ve let your guard down into complacency (oh, how nice, meet-cute, yay) the film, straight out of left-field, morphs into a monster movie-except, if you’ve known anything about Vigalondo’s storytelling, you know there’s a twist in there somewhere. His talent to subvert conventions is precisely what makes this film worth watching. Add to this the excellent performances of Hathaway and Sudeikis, and you’ve got yourself a monster movie about male entitlement like you’ve never seen before.
Unsurprisingly, Hathaway is smashing and gives quite the edge to her protagonist’s cynicism and vulnerability with the kind of incredible nuance for which she’s known. She’s excellent, and acting as a surprising foil to her depth is Sudeikis, who-holy shit!-is effortless and organic in his most multi-dimensional role yet. Oh, and there’s also Stevens, who’s pretty good, but the movie isn’t really about the character he plays, so… there’s that.
Kicking off with a deceptively simplistic conflict, “Colossal” reels you in till you find out that you can’t tear your eyes off the screen. Its genre-bending madness is but only the text hiding its fascinating, nightmarishly real, and meticulously layered anthropological commentary. Nacho Vigalondo’s latest is a film that’s equal parts indie rom-com, psychological horror, and monster-movie seems never to miss a single step. And that’s just how we like our mad-experimental movies.
“Colossal” is a finely crafted mélange that effectively doubles as an allegory to mental illness, abuse — both physical and emotional — and toxic masculinity. And if you haven’t watched it yet, get on it, stat!