Breaking a Monster

Directed by Luke Meyer

Breaking a Monster begins as the band members of Unlocking The Truth are all in 7th grade, spending their weekends playing metal music in Times Square - often to substantial crowds. They take on a 70-year-old industry veteran manager. With his guidance they are soon on their way to a $1.8M record deal with Sony Music. Anything feels possible, and the eyes of the world are upon them. The boys are coming of age, not only as they become professional musicians, but also as they transcend childhood and step into adulthood. The sudden breakout of any band, let alone one of pre-teens, is an extremely narrow and specific period in time - Breaking a Monster is the story of this rapid transformation


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  • ★★★★ review by Steven Sheehan on Letterboxd

    A cautionary tale - if ever another one was needed - about the vacuous bloodsucking ability of the music industry. This time it is a very young metal band, made up of three 12/13-year-old black boys from Brooklyn being manipulated by Sony and those associated with them. At such a tender age they are a tight group but their youth and ethnicity feels like a marketeers dream, watering down the serious ambitions the boys hope for. The genre they want to grow into presents itself as the most alpha male there is and the boys are wise enough to recognise their pubescent voices could kill things before they even get started at this point.

    When you hear the manager bargaining for clothing merchandise price points or graphic designers throwing up cute caricatures to represent the group, you can see the pressure mounting. Their own manager is already looking at the potential sales rather than what the band want. Jarad, the young drummer, really has his head screwed on, scrutinising the contract before signing in the meeting with Sony and refusing to go with the managers initial idea for a video unless it matches the theme of the song.

    Grown up music or not, the three boys are just kids, which is captured throughout the film. The adults are acutely aware of that too, pressurising while talking above their limited knowledge of what is going on around them at times. The camera follows the boys from their signing, playing at Coachella and the Colbert Report but stopping before they rid themselves of major label machinery. Tensions grow between band members as expectations expand, while parents can't help but take onboard the dreams and the stress too. But these boys aren't as naive as you might think. They get the manipulation of Sony and their manager because they are black and play metal but ultimately are living out their dream, prepared to grin and bear it so they can just make their music.

  • ★★★★★ review by 𝔐𝔯. 𝔅𝔬𝔩𝔢𝔵 on Letterboxd

    \m/ METAL \m/

  • ★★★★★ review by Charles Arpin on Letterboxd

    It was a pleasant surprise to come home and see my dads friend lent him a copy of this. "Breaking a Monster" is definitely one of my favorite docs of all time.

  • ★★★★½ review by Corey Pierce on Letterboxd

    A really strong music industry doc. Not particularly focused on the music itself, Breaking A Monster is about how a group of black preteens playing thrash metal were signed and the process of marketing them from there.

    As strong as it is, a warning that this movie is annoying. Their manager has that kind of self-aggrandizing delusion about himself that makes for a great documentary character, but is thoroughly. The people around this band in general really don't seem to understand what they're trying to push, and even these kids who just want to buy Lambourghinis eventually get what's going on and how everyone is bullshitting them.

  • ★★★½ review by Marisa on Letterboxd

    endlessly impressed by and jealous of 13 year olds who are smarter and more pragmatic than i am currently as an adult

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