Girl Vs. Monster might be a great Olivia Holt showcase but it’s an awful monster movie. These days Olivia Holt is best known for her role as teen superhero Tandy Bowen (aka Dagger) in Marvel’s Cloak & Dagger but until just a few years ago she was a Disney Channel star. She got her big break starring as Kim Crawford in Disney series Kickin’ It about a group of teen misfits who attend a martial arts academy, and later had a main role on I Didn’t Do It as teenage twin Lindy Watson.
Sandwiched between those shows was the Disney Channel TV movie Girl Vs. Monster which premiered in October 2012, just in time for the Halloween season. Olivia Holt plays a teenager named Skylar who is preparing to sing at a Halloween party in a band with her crush Ryan (Luke Benward) but unwittingly unleashes a horde of monsters her parents have captured. Skylar soon discovers she comes from a line of monster hunters and the creatures she just released feed on fear which gives her a sudden, inexplicable case of stage fright. Together with her best pals Sadie (Ray Donovan’s Kerris Dorsey) and Henry (The OA’s Brendan Meyer), Skylar must embrace her heritage to overcome both the monsters and her newfound fear.
Girl Vs. Monster follows a long tradition of kid-friendly Halloween-themed Disney Channel films that includes The Scream Team, Mom’s Got A Date With A Vampire and the much-loved Halloweentown movies. Executive producer Sheri Singer – a Disney Channel veteran who produced all of the Halloweentown series – compared it to Halloweentown but described Girl Vs. Monster as “much bigger” and “more expensive” in an EW interview.
Bigger and more expensive it may have been but Girl Vs. Monster certainly wasn’t a better Disney Channel movie than the likes of Halloweentown. To her credit, Olivia Holt’s talents both as an actor and singer shine. Girl Vs. Monster featured three songs recorded by Holt – ‘Fearless’, ‘Nothing's Gonna Stop Me’ and ‘Had Me @ Hello’ – the latter of which won Best Crush Song at the 2013 Radio Disney Music Awards.
But Holt’s talents can’t distract from the fact that the film has a flimsy plot, a distinct lack of even kid-friendly scares and a bunch of so-called monsters that look like regular people wearing bargain basement Halloween costumes. Really, Girl Vs. Monster works far better as an Olivia Holt showcase than a monster movie.