Is Monster a True Story? Are Jack and Murni Based on Actual Kidnappers?

Netflix’s mystery thriller film ‘Monster’ chronicles the efforts of Alana to escape from her kidnappers with her best friend Rabin highly realistically. The Indonesian movie explores the terrors and aftermath of the kidnapping while delving into the scary reality behind child murders. Even though Rako Prijanto’s horror film seems to have roots in reality, that isn’t really the case. The movie is a remake of the acclaimed Shudder film, ‘The Boy Behind the Door.’ David Charbonier and Justin Powell conceived the 2020 movie without any true events as the foundation of their narrative but by drawing inspiration from several horror classics!

David Charbonier and Justin Powell’s Inspirations

David Charbonier and Justin Powell, who wrote and directed ‘The Boy Behind the Door,’ grew up as ardent admirers of horrors and thrillers. Out of all the subgenres and tropes in horror, they were drawn to “kids in peril” in horror movies. When the filmmakers set out to make a film about hope and friendship, they used this trope to conceive their film. “We especially love kids in peril in horror movies. We always knew that we wanted to craft a story that was really centered on these two boys and this inseparable friendship. And so everything kind of grew out of that theme essentially, and we kind of built the backdrop out of that,” Powell told CBR.

Charbonier and Powell’s inspirations ranged from Stephen King to John Carpenter. One of the most prominent works that influenced the duo is ‘The Shining.’ Jack Torrance’s rampage with an axe can be paralleled with Ms. Burton’s chase of Bobby and Kevin in the original film and Murni’s chase of Alana and Rabin in ‘Monster.’ Charbonier and Powell’s film and Rako Prijanto’s remake nod to the acclaimed horror work by recreating one of the most iconic scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation, in which Jack Nicholson’s protagonist tries to destroy a door with his axe. Another significant inspiration was Richard Donner’s adventure comedy film ‘The Goonies.’

“We leaned in on an homage to ‘The Shining.’ We love ‘The Goonies,’ and we inserted a little bit of that. We love harkening back to our old school 80s movies,” Powell told Forbes about the creation of his film. Fede Álvarez’s ‘Don’t Breathe’ also influenced the filmmakers to craft the “non-stop tension” in their creation. “We wanted to embrace this non-stop tension, similar to what they managed to achieve with ‘Don’t Breathe’ but without copying that,” Powell added. After nailing down the foundation of the narrative, Charbonier and Powell wrote the horror thriller with the “darker world of child trafficking” as the backdrop.

Image Credit: ‘The Boy Behind the Door’

Prijanto also places his film in a similar universe, as made evident by co-kidnapper Jack, who is shown to have dealings with an anonymous individual concerning the former’s victims.

Jack and Murni Are Not Real Kidnappers

Jack and Murni are the counterparts of The Creep and Ms. Burton, the antagonists of ‘The Boy Behind the Door.’ More than real-life kidnappers, David Charbonier and Justin Powell were influenced by several antagonistic movie characters from the 1980s and 1990s to create the duo. These villains even include Alan Rickman’s iconic Hans Gruber in the legendary action thriller ‘Die Hard.’ “We really love larger-than-life, over-the-top villains. […] they’re more animated, they’re more expressive, they take time to have speeches, they want to convey their feelings and how they came up with their plans,” Charbonier said while featuring on the podcast, ‘Nightmare on Film Street.’

While creating Kristin Bauer van Straten’s Ms. Burton, Charbonier and Powell ensured that she is an intricate character rather than a typical one. “We didn’t want her to be super grounded and serious. We actually wanted her to be a little fun so those scenes could be a little bit more humorous, like when she gets hurt or when she’s super frustrated,” Charbonier added. Even though Jack and Murni are fictional, they remind us of Richard Evonitz, who abducted 15-year-old Kara Robinson in 2002. Like the duo’s victims, Kara escaped from Evonitz within a day.

Read More: Netflix’s Monster (2024): Exploring All Filming Locations