BY GEORGE PO CHUN HUANG
Just like the American film Love, Simon (2018), the Australian movie Monster Pies (2013) is also a narrative focused on the fear and struggle of gay men during high school years. It also reminds us of the bittersweet adolescence, when we first met love and those attempts to make our family and friends accept us.
High school student Mike (Tristan Barr) falls in love with new transfer student William (Lucas Linehan). When their English teacher asks them to adapt Romeo and Juliet, Mike grasps the opportunity and asks William to do the group project with him. Mutually attracted to each other, the two students have officially taken the first step. William suggests that they can do the project while playing a Werewolf and Frankenstein’s monster. Gradually they open their minds to each other.
Romeo and Juliet has been referenced very often in coming-of-age romances. Lukas even suggests that they can change his character's name into Shakespeare's name—William. The two boys change the Romeo and Juliet characters' names into two males in a horror movie, mirroring their own story as homosexuals and insinuating that they are monsters ostracized by others. Mike is Frankenstein's monster because he is considered abnormal due to his sexuality; William is a werewolf because he cannot accept the fact that he loves boys. Coincidentally, the two lonely individuals finally find consolation.
Although they intended to avoid mentioning their pasts and families at first, Mike tells Luke that he had a brother that died in an accident. They used to make “monster pies” with mud and served them to imaginary monsters so they wouldn't eaten them, telling us that both Mike and his brother were afraid of the monster within themselves, their different selves.
It was (maybe) because of the death of Mike's brother that his parents divorced; William's mother lived in a nursing home due to dementia, and his father often abused him. The two teenagers not only found love but also a shelter away from their families. But William still cannot overcome his fears regarding his sexuality until he witnesses the death of a stranger that makes him determined to seize the day. They manage to fix their relationship during the school's dance.
Mike's mother accidentally found the film adaptation and their way-too-intimate interaction and snapped. She told William's father, whom after receiving the news, snapped at William, too. Their parents treated their love with homophobia, which drove them to leave their homes, feeling like monsters detested by society. Together they went to the place in where William used to hide. However, they didn't fight back as monsters do. They hurt themselves to kill the monsters. Eventually, Mike's mother accepts Mike's homosexuality and his love for William; Mike's father even told Mike that he would love him and accept him unconditionally. Mike would never have to be afraid. He was not a monster anymore. More importantly, he would never be devoured by the monster from within.