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Movie Review: Monster

Alternate Title: Sugar and Spice, but not very nice

Story: Aileen Wournos was executed in Florida at age 46 in October of 2002 after spending 12 years on death row. Her convicted crimes were for the murders of at least 7 Johns. She murdered her victims after they picked her up in their cars while she was a hooker. This biopic traces the months directly before this killing spree began in 1989-90.

Director and scriptwriter Patty Jenkins delivers a wrenching, grim portrait of what might have happened to both the victims and to Wournos as she turns from white trash hooker into a murderer. These speculative recreations were culled from transcripts with Wournos and other documentaries that have been made about her while she was alive.

It seems clear that Wournos' ultimate sociopath behavior was the result of her upbringing. She was a child who had been abused, abandoned, raped, beaten. She finally ran away from her Michigan home at age 13. What made her snap? Why don't all abused children become killers? The answers to these questions and others remain unresolved but become fodder for good conversation after the film.

Kudos to makeup artist Tony G. for the amazing work he did in the transformation of a beautiful actress into the splotchy skinned, big toothed, white trashy looking Wournos. Theron's performance is so good that after only a short while you stop looking for the beautiful actress and fully believe that this is Wournos.

This film does not take sides about the death penalty. If you were an advocate or critic before you see this film -- you will not change your opinion after viewing this difficult story.

Acting: Charlize Theron should probably be buying new dresses and writing her acceptance speeches now for the many awards she will most likely receive for this break out performance as serial killer Aileen Wournos. She is in almost every scene and is riveting to watch. She catches the nervous paranoid energy into which this degraded human being evolves. Brava for her! Christina Ricci (as Selby Wall - whose real life name was Tyra Moore) as her dependent love interest seems to spend much of the film whining about how hungry or how bored she is and other times seems just as riveted by Theron's performance as I was.

Predilection: I admit to being mildly fascinated by serial killers.

Critters: Thankfully none that I can remember.

Food: Lots of booze -- very little food There was a scene in a diner that featured a steak and a Wournos fit.

Visual Art: The rental apartment and motels that they stayed in has little in the way of art.

Blatant Product Placement: This film does nothing for the promotion of Florida as a tourist draw.

Soundtrack: Fitting pop tunes.

Opening Titles: A creepy opening shot with the title in RED.

Theater Audience: It was half filled for a snowy Sunday 10AM preview morning.

Sappy Factor: 0 - Are you kidding?

Quirky Meter: The film about the first known female serial killer has to get a 2.

Squirm Scale: 4 - Her nervous edgy performance made me very squirmy. There is also quite a bit of violence and impending acts of violence.

Predictability Level: Based on a true story this category is moot.

Oscar Worthy: Yes. Her performance deserves a nod.

Nit Picking: I would have liked to have had a better script.

Big Screen or Rental: If you are Oscar obsessed I think you will have to see this on the big screen. If you need to see some more films about serial killers try these: American Perfekt, Felicia's Journey, Copycat, Gumnaam, A Lamb in Despair ,Black Male, Summer of Sam, Frequency, Outside Ozona, Freeway, Manhunter, Henry - Portrait of A Serial Killer, A Shadow of Doubt, Diary of A Serial KillerVengeance is Mine, Natural Born Killers, Curdled, Silence of The Lambs, Man Bites Dog and American Psycho.

Length: Under two hours.