Screened as part of NZIFF 2017

A Monster Calls 2016

Directed by J.A. Bayona

A story-telling monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) helps a sleeping boy with his waking-life nightmares in this adaptation of Patrick Ness’ novel, spectacularly realised with lavish CGI and painterly animations.

Spain / UK In English
109 minutes CinemaScope / DCP



Belén Atienza


Patrick Ness. Based on his novel


Óscar Faura


Bernat Vilaplana
Jaume Martí

Production designer

Eugenio Caballero

Costume designer

Steven Noble


Fernando Velázquez


Lewis MacDougall (Conor)
Sigourney Weaver (grandmother)
Felicity Jones (mother)
Liam Neeson (the Monster)
Geraldine Chaplin (head teacher)
Toby Kebbell (father)
Ben Moor (Mr Clark)
James Melville (Harry)
Oliver Steer (Sully)
Dominic Boyle (Anton)
Jennifer Lim (Miss Kwan)
Max Gabbay (Steven)
Morgan Symes (lawyer)


Toronto, San Sebastián, London 2016


Best Director, Original Score, Cinematography & Editing, Goya Awards 2017

Twelve-year-old English boy Conor O’Malley (Lewis MacDougall) is a lonely kid. His father lives in California; his loving mother (Felicity Jones) is terminally ill, and his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver) makes a chilly substitute. His sole companion appears nightly in the intimidating form of a gigantic tree creature (voiced by Liam Neeson) who tells him fantastic tales of apothecaries and kings, handsome princes and wicked stepmothers. The monster challenges Conor to discover the truth in the stories that might give him the strength to make the best of his sorry lot.

J.A. Bayona’s adaptation of Patrick Ness’ young adult novel draws on a spectacular arsenal of CGI, shifting into ravishing painterly animation for the monster’s enthralling tales, to impart tough and fortifying wisdom about life, and about stories too.

“Mixing horror movie imagery with honest, heart-wrenching human truths, Bayona has created a dark, coming-of-age masterpiece…

Much of this success is greatly aided by the film’s dynamite cast. Although her part is minor, Jones is a delight as the tragic mother, her warm, loving presence filling each scene… Likewise, Sigourney Weaver and Toby Kebbell make great impressions… However, the majority of the film rests on the shoulders of MacDougall, a bright, new talent whose sweet and nuanced performance channels the complex emotions of pain and loss with aplomb… 

Entertaining, tonally impeccable, and heartbreaking, this is a monster movie with a very human heart.” —Marten Carlson, Consequence of Sound