By Joey Nolfi
September 07, 2016 at 12:56 PM EDT
  • Movie

Emotional fireworks meet explosive destruction in the gorgeous new trailer for J.A. Bayona’s A Monster Calls. 

Introducing Lewis MacDougal as Conor, A Monster Calls revolves around a young boy struggling to cope with what appears to be the impending death of his mother (Felicity Jones), who suffers from a grave illness. As he deals with the internal pain of potentially losing a loved one, Conor grows increasingly conflicted with the world around him, and he often disappears into a realm of fantasy where a large monster (voiced by Liam Neeson) helps him come to terms with the madness of reality.

Bayona and production designer Eugenio Caballero (Pan’s Labyrinth) previously told EW creating the film’s massive, 36-foot tree creature was an exercise in patience. After pouring over hundreds of proposed designs, they ultimately narrowed it down to Ness’ original graphic novel for the bulk of their inspiration for the monster’s look. 

“There was some poetry in those illustrations, and we wanted to keep that same feeling,” Bayona said. “The tree has been always an allegory for spiritual growth. The monster represents the man Conor is turning into.”

Caballero added: “The most important thing was for the monster to be old, wise, and filled with great strength.” 

The film’s supporting cast includes Sigourney Weaver, Tobby Kebbell, and Geraldine Chaplin. It marks Bayona’s first feature directorial effort since helming the disaster movie The Impossible, for which Naomi Watts was nominated in the Best Actress category at the 2013 Oscars. Patrick Ness adapted his own novel (of the same name) to pen the film’s screenplay.

Currently, A Monster Calls is set to premiere at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival on Friday. It will then travel to several festivals around the world, including the United Kingdom, where it will play the London Film Festival. 

A Monster Calls doesn’t open in limited release until Dec. 23, though it is expected to expand nationwide on Jan. 6, 2017. Watch the film’s full trailer in the video above.

  • Movie
  • PG-13
release date
  • 01/06/17
  • 108 minutes
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