A Japanese equivalent of Unabomber Ted Kaczynski is haunted by his family past in”Monsters Club,” a slight, cockeyed spin on the Japanese ghost story that introduces big ideas, then shuffles off into undernourished dramatics. As a study of extreme radicals, Toshiaki Toyoda’s latest reps the opposite of the recent “United Red Army”; where that film was epic and anti-psychological, this one is too brief at 72 minutes, and obsessed with family skeletons (or goofy-looking creatures). Fests friendly to Toyoda’s films will invite, but pic’s local December opening will be a dud.
Ryoichi carefully packages cigar-triggered bombs sent to corporate execs’ offices; the one attack depicted suggests a limited budget, with focus on the bomb itself and voices offscreen. A long voiceover by Ryoichi basically regurgitates the Unabomber’s anti-industrial screed but delivers it as if it were original. Yet little of this matters compared to appearance in Ryoichi’s forest hideaway of a creature covered in shaving cream and red makeup; the critter is so not scary, it’s impossible to gauge the pic’s comedic intent (if any). Ensuing faceoffs between Ryochi and his dead brothers’ ghosts aren’t nearly as engaging as intended.