“Small Town Monsters; Beast of Whitehall” Movie Review

Whitehall

It feels like just yesterday I was watching Small Town Monsters initial foray into the indie movie making scene with their documentary, “Minerva Monster”.

You can check out my review of Minerva here;

https://searchthewoods.com/2015/05/07/critically-examining-small-town-monsters-minerva-monster-movie-review/

In case you don’t want to read my wonderfully written, Roger and Ebert-esque, review of MM, I’ll summarize it here…

It’s good. Really good. MM took the traditional overly dramatized bigfoot docu-drama and flipped it on it’s conical shaped head. Seth and company let the witnesses tell the story for themselves and that, my friends, was refreshing.

Needless to say, when I was offered the opportunity to see “Beast of Whitehall” before it’s official release, I was beyond excited.

I’m not going to give away anything in regards to the actual events that took place on and around Whitehall, New York during the late summer of 1976. However, I highly encourage you to invest in the movie for yourself because these events may be some of the most interesting, not to mention compelling, ever to be attributed to a Bigfoot like creature.

I’ll simply be reviewing the movie as an entity to itself apart from the actual story it tells.

The Review

The first thing that struck me was the noticeable maturation in the production value of the film itself.

The images are sharper (at least to my eyes) and the cinematography is stunning.

The use of drone footage sets the stage immediately as the movie opens with a flyover of Whitehall (which is much more beautiful than I would have imagined). The first scene seemed to set the tone for the rest of the movie, at least for me.

It’s an unusual combination of beauty and eeriness that seems to float just below the surface of the movie as it progress through various eyewitness accounts, both past and present.

I found it hard to fight the urge to squint my eyes during the opening scenes of the movie,  trying to pick out some sort of large, ape-like creature, lumbering through the fog laden trees.

“Beast of Whitehall”, like Minerva before it, depends on eyewitness testimony as well as those close to the original incident (in both location and familiarity) to tell the story as they remember it. This quality is, in my opinion, what truly sets STM films apart from others that try to explore this particular section of the indie movie scene.

Yet, where MM used only eyewitness testimony in recounting the tale, Beast of Whitehall adds a layer of outside narration from Clint Granberry (of OK Talk podcast fame) who does a fantastic job of telling the story in the way stories should be told. Simply, subtly, and without “fluff”. The narration as written and as spoken does nothing but add to the movie. Narration can easily “get in the way” but is certainly not the case in Beast of Whitehall.

As a bigfoot enthusiast, as well as a musician, I’m always interested in a movies score. Beast of Whitehall does not disappoint here. 

The music matches the movie seemingly scene to scene. Again, there’s an eeriness in much of the score that somehow avoids “creepy”. It’s not a “monster” movie, at least not a monster movie in the way most of us have become familiar. It’s a story. It’s a part of a town that is more interesting than anything Hollywood could dream up. The music reflects that. I would imagine that’s a hard, very thin line, to walk but Brandon Dalo (composer) did it very well.

Possibly most impressive about Whitehall, as was the case with Minerva, could be the pre-production work it must have taken to line up those that were most directly involved with the event itself.

When a movie decides that 99% of it’s content is going to come from those who lived the story you’d assume some concessions to actual storytelling would have to be made.

I mean, how do you get exactly what you need in regards to wording, verbage, and story continuity when you are going almost “hands off” as far as pre-planned sentences, dramatic pauses, etc.

However STM did it, they did it well. 

In conclusion, you can’t go wrong with “Beast of Whitehall”.

If you are a fan of Bigfoot. You’ll like it.

If you’re a fan of well made, creative, indie movies. You’ll dig it.

If you just like quality storytelling. You won’t be disappointed.

The second work in the STM portfolio not only picks up where Minerva Monster left off but grows in both storytelling acumen and cinematic presentation.

In short, I loved it (and have loved it all 4 times I’ve watched it).

To pre-order Beast of Whitehall or purchase Minerva Monster and some awesome STM swag, vist;

http://shop.smalltownmonsters.com/

Whitehall

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