MONSTRUM is a short film about one man's inability to let go of his past. Fears of childhood distill into a terrifying monster under a bed, a memory that grips the awkward Andrew. When Karen, a clerk at his local library, tries to get him to open up by showing him an ancient manuscript the results are disastrous. Spurred by this failure Andrew makes an attempt to defeat his fears, but the past has other ideas.

  • Peter D. Johnston
  • Peter D. Johnston
  • Cynthia Graner
    Stranded in Paradise, Deadgirl
  • Jeff Blum
    Key Cast
    ChickleBerry Jam
  • Gabrielle Wagner
    Key Cast
  • Gildart Jackson
    Key Cast
    Charmed, You
  • Mateus Ward
    Key Cast
    Hostages, Murder in the First
  • Sandra Valde-Hansen
    White Bird in a Blizzard
  • Michael Benni Pierce
    The Trouble with the Truth
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Thriller, Horror, Drama, Tragedy
  • Runtime:
    15 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    July 31, 2012
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • ITSA Film Festival REEL SCARY
    Sonora, CA
    November 2, 2013
    North American Premiere
Director Biography - Peter D. Johnston

A British expat, Peter arrived in the United States at the tender age of fifteen, and was immediately exposed to the grandeur of the state of Utah. He attended Utah Valley State College and Southern Utah University, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Acting and Directing for the theatre.

After moving to Los Angeles he began working in film and television in 2007 as an on-set production assistant and an independent assistant director. Credits ranging across tiny independent budgets to major cable television shows gave him a breadth of practical experience that, coupled with his theatrical artistic ambitions, pushed him towards directing his own projects.

In 2009 Peter began working for designing film production software that took advantage of his on-set experience and his limited computer savvy.

MONSTRUM is Peter's directorial debut. His second short film, STOLEN (starring Amanda Leighton) was completed in 2015 and is being submitted to festivals.

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Director Statement

I was often asked during the production of MONSTRUM if it was in any way autobiographical, if I'd suffered as Andrew had. I'm glad to say I had not. Sure, there were some growing pains, but in the end my parents were supportive and raised me to be self-supporting and reliable. That being said, what I can relate to is how the pains and fears of our childhood never quite let us go. From bullying to rejection, there's plenty in my past that shaped my adulthood in ways I wish it hadn't. Personal demons I wish I'd let go of but, to be honest, never quite recognized for what they were. Never quite knew how to release their grip on me.

MONSTRUM is about those things. About the events and challenges that shape the way we act as adults without truly being aware of the cause. Andrew is not simply afraid of the dark. He is caught in a web of self-defeating reactions that he has no real control over. The abuse he suffered has stunted his ability to connect with the real world, and his creativity has spawned a world of monsters he's unable to escape. His journey is doomed from the outset, this brief dalliance with another human being just a precursor to a brutal reminder that he will never be free of his past.

The script suffered for a year under my care until that theme became apparent. With the help of Producer, Cynthia Graner, and advice from friends, colleagues, and an almost disastrous table-read (don't trust writer-directors with microphones!) a relatively dark twelve pages made their way into pre-production and the real work began. I had the great fortune to make my directing debut with a highly talented and professional cast and crew, and more-so with colleagues whom I trusted and communicated with almost effortlessly.

That's not to say there weren't challenges, given the ambitious nature of our shooting schedule, but those challenges were met quite calmly. Shot lists were savaged as we ran out of time at the North Hollywood Public Library, but the theme and flow of the scenes was preserved. Shots were added to our second day at Andrew's apartment, but the daily schedule didn't balloon into a crew's horror story. In the end our ability to communicate about what we wanted, how we wanted it, and where we wanted it saved us from so many headaches. MONSTRUM is truly a team effort, a team I'm proud to have been a part of, and one I can't wait to work with again.

Although the final film uses elements of introspective horror, emotional drama, and a touch or two of comedy, I really intended this to be a classical tragedy. It's a sign or portent, a malfunction of nature that exposes the chilling grasp of our past on our daily lives. Through Andrew I hope the audience will examine how and why they were shaped. How they might face the monsters under their beds.