Attack of the Morningside Monster (2014) – By Philip Smolen

The small New Jersey town of Morningside is suddenly becoming a grisly and dangerous place to live. A number of the town’s sleazoids have been getting killed in various horrible ways. Even worse, their body parts are being removed from their bodies and used for some fiendish purpose. It’s up to local sheriff Tom Haulk (Robert Pralgo) and his deputy Klara Austin (Tiffany Shepis) to dig deep and find out who’s killing the less than upstanding citizens of this sleepy town. Complicating his life is the fact that his brother-in-law Mark (Nicholas Brendon) has just been busted for buying a pound of marijuana. Mark tries to convince Tom that he bought the drug for his cancer-stricken wife Abbey (Amber Chaney) who just happens to be Tom’s sister. The tormented sheriff does his best to keep the situation well in hand, but the sly killer he is stalking always seems to be one step ahead of him.

“Attack of the Morningside Monster” is an indie flick shot locally in Georgia by director Chris Ethridge and writer Jayson Palmer It’s a pretty good take on the masked killer genre that unfortunately takes a bad turn when the killer is finally revealed. But up until that point, it’s satisfying and solid.

The film has a nice professional gloss and features great photography. The characters are also well developed and the actors play well off one another. Robert Pralgo exhibits a real naturalness as Tom Haulk. Tiffany Shepis, Nicholas Brendon and Amber Chaney are all professional as well. And Mike Stanley gives a nice menacing turn as a local drug dealer who’s on the killer’s hit list.

But all of this good effort is blunted when the identity of the killer is finally revealed. It totally contradicts several scenes that take place earlier in the flick. And in a mystery killer movie, that’s a no-no.

“Attack of the Morningside Monster” works for the first four fifths of its running time, but it loses everything that it strives so hard to build with a sloppy and unsatisfying ending.

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Addendum to My Review of “Attack of The Morningside Monster” (12/1/14)

After my review of “Attack of the Morningside Monster” was published in November, I received a lovely email from the film’s director Chris Ethridge explaining that he and writer Jayson Palmer went to great lengths to make the killer’s identity a real surprise, so they were puzzled by my statement that “the final reveal totally contradicts several scenes that take place earlier in the flick. And in a mystery killer movie, that’s a no-no.” and they asked what they could have done to make it more believable. This started me thinking that maybe I just didn’t catch all the clues that were given in the film. So I decided to watch “Attack of the Morningside Monster” again to see if my initial review was right or wrong. Well, I was wrong. Chris and Jason not only cleverly disguised the identity of the killer, they also built up a strong, linear and logical conclusion for who the killer was, so when it is finally revealed, the id makes complete and total cinematic sense. Watching it the second time, I had the chance to pay attention to the clues left about the killer’s id and this time I caught them all. I don’t know. Maybe I was pre-occupied the first time I watched the flick. Anyway, after watching the movie again I have to change my conclusion about the film and say that “Attack of the Morningside Monster” is a slick and effective killer on the loose movie. It’s intelligently written, cleverly plotted and thrilling as well. It’s an excellent indie horror thriller.

(See – us film reviewers get things wrong sometimes! Sorry about that one folks!)