Films based on true stories are rarely ever easy to watch and We Are Monster is no different. Traumatic, vile and full of hate are words that best describe this film, but without the stand out performance of one actor in We Are Monster, Leeshon Alexander, this could have turned out so differently.
Back in 2000 Zahid Mubarek was set for release from Feltham Young Offenders Institution after a 90 day sentence for stealing £6 worth of razor blades. Quite tragically, Robert Stewart, a known racist with a record of violence, was placed in the same cell as Zahid. The film follows a very quite Robert as he keeps himself to himself but growing ever more angry and paranoid regarding his fellow inmates, especially those of a different race to his own. Quite clearly Robert has mental health issues as we witness him talking to his demon self about his disgusting treatment as a child by his parents (which certainly gives us an insight into why he has turned out the way he has) and what and how he is going to take down the one black guy he has had an altercation with in the institute all leading to the brutal murder of Zahid in his cell bed at the hands of Robert just hours before Zahid’s release.
We Are Monster was actually written by leading actor Leeshon Alexander and directed by Antony Petrou, hats off to both these guys as they have kept this story pretty close to the facts of this tragic story, it really couldn’t off been easy for them not be sickened by not just the brutal act of Robert Stewart but also the laziness and couldn’t give a damn attitude of the prison authorities.
We see Leeshon Alexander take on two roles, that of Robert, a quiet lad with a few “issues” and of his brutal and goading alter-ego, without this double role it would be harder to understand his actions and is highly important in the film to open our minds into getting to know this guy better but it by no means makes you develop any real sympathy for this Monster. Alexander makes both roles extremely believable, powerful and mesmerizing. Zahid is played by Aymen Hamdouchi is also played well, we don’t see him that much but what we do see is that he was a harmless sweet kid just biding his time and not wanting to cause any trouble.
Quite frankly I couldn’t find any fault in this film even if I wanted to, It highlights the issues we have with prison authorities in the UK were they really couldn’t care less, at the end of the film we are given a few facts of what happened to those in charge after the case and in fact one actually got promoted. It also highlights that Robert was actually let down by the childcare system in this country, who knows if his brutal treatment as a child had been spotted this film may never have been made.
We Are Monster is a brutal, powerful and sickening film, not one for the faint hearted or easily offended as the amount of racist language will make you feel uncomfortable, However this is one of the best British films of 2015 so far and I couldn’t recommend it highly enough.
WE ARE MONSTER IS RELEASED ON THE 1ST OF MAY.