Brooklyn Horror Film Festival Review: “Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent” (2020) Is a Fun Family Creature Feature
by Joseph Perry
Live-action children’s monster movies hold a special place in the hearts of Uphill Both Ways’ Mike and yours truly, along with our readers and podcast listeners. From long-time favorite Monster Squad (1987) to the oft maligned Godzilla’s Revenge (AKA All Monsters Attack; 1969), gateway creature features introduce young minds to snarling, growling, crushing, slithering, spooky beasts of all sorts, creating new generations of monster kids. Swedish film Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent is a fun new entry in the subgenre, with a plucky, likable heroine heading up its laughs as well as its lessons about inclusiveness.
Elementary-school-aged Nelly (Matilda Gross) puts on a shocking performance at her school in which she fights a shadow-play monster, complete with catsup for blood. Her father Lennart (Jens Ohlin) gives her a pep talk about trying harder to fit in with her peers before bringing her to the stately mansion of her Uncle Hannibal (Johan Rheborg) — her deceased mother’s brother — and his fellow retired schoolteacher roommate Lena-Sleva (Marianne Mörck) for school break.
Lennart spends the first night at Hannibal’s mansion but neither sees the suspicious activities that Nelly does, nor believes her when she tells him about the mysterious goings-on. After he returns home, Nelly learns of a secret family legacy that may wreak havoc with the “Frankenensteiner” girl down the street who she befriends, not to mention a bevy of other supernatural sorts. Adding to the conflict is Vincent (Björn Gustafsson), de facto boss of the Monster Agents who, unbeknownst to the other agents, is an all-around nogoodnik.
Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent, directed by Amanda Adolfsson with a screenplay by Sofie Forsman, strikes a nice balance between being not-too-scary enough for youngsters and entertaining enough for adults. It also avoids being overly corny or relying on easy slapstick jokes, boasting a rather elevated style of humor for its target market. The practical effects and makeup work are all crafted well, including a hot-dog–loving werewolf and a vampire who is a big Sisters of Mercy fan. The cast is solid, with Gross giving a fine lead performance that never heads into cloying or annoying territory.
Recommended for families looking for gateway spooky fare with some nice comedy on tap and for adults nostalgic for the lighter scare-fare of their youth, Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent is well worth seeking out.
Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent screened as part of Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, which ran from October 14–21, 2021.
Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent
Directed by: Amanda Adolfsson
Written by: Sofie Forsman
Produced by: SF Studios and Janson Media
Starring: Matilda Gross, Lily Wahlsteen, Jens Ohlin, Johan Rheborg, Marianne Mörck
Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: October 23, 2020 in Sweden; currently on international film festival circuit
Nelly Rapp: Monster Agent is available on Amazon at http://pixelfy.me/NellyRappAMAZON.
Joseph Perry is one of the hosts of When It Was Cool’s exclusive Uphill Both Ways podcast. He also writes for When It Was Cool (whenitwascool.com), the film websites Diabolique Magazine (diaboliquemagazine.com), Gruesome Magazine (gruesomemagazine.com), The Scariest Things (scariesthings.com), and Horror Fuel (horrorfuel.com), and film magazines Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope (videoscopemag.com) and Drive-In Asylum (etsy.com/shop/GroovyDoom).
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