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Minore (FrightFest 2023)

In a sense, it’s unfortunate that every modern monster movie will be compared to Jaws. Unless it’s a pre-existing franchise like Godzilla or King Kong, Steven Speilberg’s seaside classic remains the standard bearer for our expectations when it comes to anything remotely beastly. Minore leans headfirst into that, though. Not only does it tell the story of a town troubled by a mythical monster, but the town is also on the coast. That said, it shares just as much connective tissue with They Live, Zombieland and even Marvel’s Avengers as it does with just Jaws. It truly is a smorgasbord of genres and ideas.

Davide Tucci plays William, a sailor who washes up in a Greek coastal town while on shore leave. As charming as the town might be for a random break somewhere nice, he’s come with an agenda. He’s trying to reconnect with his past. Aliki (Daphne Alexander) works in a tavern and catches William’s eye with an incredible expediency. It isn’t long before they’re well in the swing of a typical sunny holiday romance. It’s so typical, in fact, that it draws tension from the horror trope of characters being introduced at the start solely for the purpose of showing off our monster’s ability to kill its prey.

Minore does something different from that point of view. In an Avengers-esque “putting the team together” sequence we meet a number of misfit townsfolk, none of whom would ever have time for one another were it not for the monster threatening everyone’s existence. There are elements of multiple Greek mythologies – Odyssesus is essentially the nucleus for the character story beneath all of the practical effects and fake blood, and the threat takes some ideas from the Ketea, the Greek monsters of the sea. The group dynamic and humour is more akin to Zombieland though, as the differences between them all are played on for their maximum comedic values.

The practical effects are certainly something to be celebrated on such a low budget. There’s gore that wouldn’t look out of place in John Carpenter’s They Live, and it’s just as funny as it is painful to watch. Everything in Minore tends towards crafting an experience, and it’s one which is reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s critique of Marvel movies – that they have more in common with theme park rides than they do cinema. Although it may not be the most flattering of compliments, there is a space for that and it’s exactly what Minore achieves. It’s thrilling, exciting, and hard to leave without a smile.

The one thing it does have in common with Jaws is its slow build to the big reveal. Now, Minore is far more excessive than Jaws could ever claim to be. There is no doubt of that. But it does tread water for a long time until we eventually meet a wonderfully put-together practical monster. We’re given plenty of time to get to know the townsfolk and the town itself, and there’s a very rich tapestry of themes holding them all together. Just as there would be in real life. There are threads concerning the church, war, music and so much more. It’s amazing that Minore can have so much going on while also hitting the high notes of any schlocky B-movie that’s come before it.

Minore is a comedy-action-horror that knows exactly what it’s doing. It’ll never be accused of being high art, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t meaningful. It presents us with a platter of ideas and themes, and it’s up to us to decide which are worth paying attention to. Whichever we choose, it’s all just well-crafted context for a film that aims to give us the time of our lives for a couple of hours.

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