“The Monster”: Old-school horror meets modern family drama on a deserted road

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“The Monster” is now playing at AMC Desert Star in Baraboo. R, 1:32, three stars out of four.

You’d be forgiven for thinking initially that the title character in Bryan Bertino’s horror film “The Monster” was a mother. Kathy (Zoe Kazan) is a spectacular trainwreck of a single parent, channeling her frustration and anger with her situation into substance abuse and screaming fits at her 12-year-old daughter Lizzie (Ella Bellentine).

In the opening scene, we see Lizzie listening to a sad country song as she cleans up the wreckage of one of Kathy’s benders, picking up beer bottles and pouring out ashtrays. Kathy is supposed to drive Lizzie to her father’s house for an extended (perhaps permanent) visit, but she oversleeps, and the bickering duo gets a late start on the road.

That turns out to be a very serious mistake.

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