Frightfest: I Am Monsters! (2023)

Director: Nicholas Vince

Running Time: 72 Minutes

Known best for his roles as the Chatterer in Hellraiser and Kinski in Nightbreed, actor Nicholas Vince took to the stage in 2019 with his autobiographical one-man show entitled 'I Am Monsters!' He makes his feature directorial debut with this adaptation, combining footage of the stage show with cinematic recreations of confessional stories.

Presented as "a play in five acts", Vince takes center stage for a nostalgic tale of how this man born a Gemini found a love for monsters and acting. His personal history is emotionally recounted, from a childhood tale of surgically correcting his underbite, to sharing stories from the sets of Nightbreed and the first two Hellraiser films. While the play-set sequences focus on the stories, the anecdotes are cinematically recounted through visual recreations aided by Mitch Bain's effective score. This is particularly evident as Vince recounts literary passages which emphasise his feelings.

The stories are brought alive with an eye-catching style, from how miniatures depict a past traffic accident, to the comic-book style framing of a story being pitched to Marvel Comics, and especially a humorous fake-advertisement in response to the claims of "promoting homosexuality." Granted, some polishing is needed in places, such as the sudden transitions between the play and recreations, yet there is a fascination vision here which holds much promise.

His fascination with monsters began from watching them behind the sofa and reading about them in books, while his fears lay in the humans who formed a mob to destroy the supposed "monsters". It is no wonder he related to the feared outsider when he was a bullied boy at school, and scapegoated as a gay man in Britain during Thatcher's draconian rule. When misinformation about AIDs spread while the monstrous Section 28 became law, life imitated art as the mob united for destruction of the "other".

It is not mad scientists who makes monsters, but fear. While people may appear reasonable or pretend to be heroes, it is their acts which reveal how monstrous they truly are. What Vince has delivered is a self-reflective tale of his journey to not be a victim or a monster, but about the importance of listening to people's stories and seeing what makes them truly human. What has unfolded is a coming-of-age and coming-out tale shared by this engaging storyteller.

I Am Monsters! made its World Premiere at Frightfest 2023