Editor’s Notes: Breaking a Monster is currently out in New York and LA in limited release.
Breaking A Monster films the rise of Unlocking the Truth, a metal band consisting of 13 year olds -Guitarist and lead vocalist Malcolm Brickhouse, Jarad Dawkins, and Alec Atkins. Directed by Luke Meyer, the film documents the tribulations of entering the music business.
For a musical documentary, a metal one at that, this film feels exhaustive.
Malcolm Brickhouse, Jarad Dawkins, and Alec Atkins are childhood friends who discover their love for metal music. Straying away from African American stereotypes, they form a metal band in 2007 with the help of the support of their parents. They attract the attention of Alan Sacks, who offers to be their manager. With sacrifices like giving up sports, leisure time, additional interests, as well as with inter-personal relationships getting affected, and decreasing compatibility with their manager, the band members soon realize that being a musician takes a lot more than they bargained for.
For a musical documentary, a metal one at that, this film feels exhaustive. The editing doesn’t show the grandeur of the band’s achievements, life, or the music genre. This film had all the ingredients for being a roller coaster, with some amazing background score, however it seemed like the essence of this film was missed out upon, that is the journey of pursuing something you love, at such a young age. From concert footages, to home videos of them skating, to them trying out rock concert outfits, there were many situations in the film that could have provided some intensity or some excitement, what the hell, 13 year olds signing a record deal with Sony? Where is their thrill of performing? Their craziness of the preteen years? Had all the tech and music business jargon worn down their enthusiasm? The film doesn’t exactly reflect the scale of the events in their life. Maybe this was intentional, to keep the content as authentic as possible, but it also made the documentary less engrossing.
The film doesn’t exactly reflect the scale of the events in their life. Maybe this was intentional, to keep the content as authentic as possible, but it also made the documentary less engrossing.
There is this strange reluctance, half-heartedness in the band members that is hard to ignore. We see them constantly fiddling, looking out of place. More often than not, the mother seemed to want this more than the kids. Playing flappy bird while in meetings, discords, and simply misbehaving, it was almost uncomfortable to watch them back answer their manager. For most teens a record deal or a confirmed tour would be great news. Additional income, the fame. But for Malcom and his friends, it seems like an added responsibility, a responsibility they are at times unwilling to take. Do the perks of having massive potential outweigh losing out on a normal childhood? Do the kids even want this for themselves?
Not a exactly suspense inducing documentary with some shocking content, occasionally we are left with looking for some stimulation in the form of anticipating whether they will be cheered or booed in their live concerts. It is definitely nice peek though into the music industry, especially regarding how music labels groom talents and promote them. It’s a pity the rest of the film didn’t have the momentum it created during the end credits.
Never thought one could associate a metal documentary with the word dull. Nevertheless, the sheer age of the band members could produce some awe and interest.