Just another morning at Feltham Young Offenders at day break. A officer does his rounds but upon looking in to a cell he finds young offender Robert Stewart has murdered his cellmate Zahid Mubarek. This film tells of the events that led up to the murder
Based on a true story of a senseless murder my IMDb peer EuroGary suggests the film should have tried a bit harder. I've got to disagree because despite having a flaw which I will get to in a moment this isn't a film that's chosen any easy routes to tell a story. The easy option would have been for the production team doing a docudrama type of movie. Considering there's very little budget available and has a mainly static setting director Antony Petrou and screenwriter Leeshon Alexander have used a lot of imagination in telling much of the story in a surreal expressionistic style where much of the exposition takes place via Stewart as a literal split personality and as a film projection suddenly appearing on a wall. Add to all this a striking musical soundtrack by Fred Portelli that is assuredly unsettling and you've got a film that lives up to the tagline of psychological horror which creeps under your skin and stays there
As good as all this is there is a fly in the ointment and that is not only does Leeshon Alexander write the screenplay but also stars in the role as Robert Stewart. Now I'm sure Mr Alexander is a good guy in real life and it probably shows on screen. Take a look at the real life Robert Stewart and the blood instantly chills and that alone should deter any youngster from committing the smallest misdemeanor. Being an actor no doubt meant that Alexander's performance is the dominating central element of WE ARE MONSTER and while this would have worked on the stage in a dynamic way it's rather negated in what is effectively an expressionistic horror movie. Sadly even here Alexander's performance isn't really strong enough to carry the film in the way the actor/writer envisaged. I found the "taunting alter-ego Stewart" just a little too self conscious and mannered to be absolutely disturbing and was often aware that I was watching an actor play a racist psycho rather than a real life monster. This is a pity you can see what the film is trying to do but doesn't do it in an entirely successful way.