Anne Hathaway's 'Colossal' Is a 'Cautionary Tale' About Substance Abuse

By David Konow 09/23/16

The movie uses a giant Godzilla-like monster as a metaphorical representation of alcoholism. 

Anne Hathaway's 'Colossal' Is a 'Cautionary Tale' About Substance Abuse
Photo via YouTube

In Colossal, the upcoming monster movie starring Anne Hathaway, there’s a big, Godzilla-style beast that’s destroying Seoul, South Korea. But the big green lizard stomping on buildings is apparently a symbol for a much fiercer monster that Hathaway's character has to battle at home: her alcoholism.

At first, Colossal, like another similar giant monster movie, Cloverfield, was shrouded in mystery. But since the movie has been screened at several film festivals, details of the plot have leaked out.

After losing her job and her fiancé in New York, an alcoholic train wreck named Gloria (Hathaway) moves back to her hometown of New Jersey, and begins spending a lot of time at a local dive bar owned by an old classmate.

Just when Gloria’s life couldn’t seem any more dreary, she learns she has a telepathic connection with a giant monster that is destroying Seoul. (Hathaway, who is getting good notices for her role, told IndieWire that Colossal is the “sci-fi companion” to Rachel Getting Married, in which she also played a character struggling with drug addiction.)

At first, director Nacho Vigalondo told Entertainment Weekly that he wasn’t exactly sure how to explain the story. But he did say, “This is a monster movie that collides with a small indie drama, which is an interesting collision.” He also promised, “The monster has a twist.”

Mashable writes that in Colossal, “alcohol is the scariest monster,” and that the movie is partly a “cautionary tale about the monsters that people become when they drink … It turns out that the monster is a physical manifestation of a mental projection of drunk Gloria, who has the mysterious ability to control its movements.”

This is not the first time addiction has been used as a metaphor in the horror genre. Stephen King turned alcoholism into best-selling horror fiction in The Shining and its sequel Doctor Sleep

Mashable's Jeff Sneider writes that, “We all know someone who makes a mess of everything they touch as soon as they start drinking, and that’s Gloria in a nutshell. The monster is an apt metaphor for that kind of destruction, and it’s clever of [director] Vigalondo to cloak this ambitious idea within a genre movie."

"Like recovery, Colossal is a little messy, but it has more depth than its synopsis suggests.” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.