Nicolas Cage and Maxwell Jenkins walk past a farmhouse in a dark, blue toned lit image
(Highland Film Group)

The Monsters in ‘Arcadian Monsters’ Are Terrifying, but What Exactly ARE They?

A new creature featured just dropped! And these creatures are featured directly from my nightmares. The monsters of the post-apocalyptic Nick Cage flick Arcadian are horrible, vile, and easily the best parts of the film. But where did they come from? All this and more, explained.

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What ARE these things?

Part dog, part ape, part bug, all horrible—the creatures from Arcadian are pure nightmare fuel. But what exactly are they? We don’t know, and there isn’t enough of humanity left to say for sure. Arcadian takes place fifteen years after a global pandemic wiped out the majority of the human race. Human civilization was reduced to ruin, with the few remaining human beings forced to live off of the scraps of a bygone era. As it turns out, human beings are not the only dominant species on Earth anymore. While their origins are never explained, a new species of monster has begun to challenge Homo sapiens for dominance over the globe. Despite their overarching presence in the film, they are never formally given a name. Here’s what we know about them:

The creatures are nocturnal. This is explained early in the film, with post-apocalyptic Father of Year Paul making sure that he and his two twin boys are never caught outside after dark. The creatures are photophobic, they don’t like the sun. They won’t burst into flames like a vampire will, but something about sunlight (or perhaps UV radiation) damages them so much that they disappear at dawn. At night however, they prowl about the planet looking for things to eat.

The creatures are pack hunters, like coyotes from hell. Unlike a xenomorph, the nigh-unkillable apex predators from the Alien franchise, these creatures can be dispatched with relative ease when faced alone. One shotgun blast to center mass will do them for. For this reason, the creatures hunt in groups to overwhelm prey, making a kill simultaneously and sharing the bloody fruits of their mutual labor. The exact specifics of this pack relationship are unknown.

It’s not clear if there are hierarchies within a pack like the ones present in wolf social groups, or if the creatures are on equal standing with one another. My guess? These horrible bastards will eat anything and everything, including each other. The creatures are all on equal footing with one another because the weaker members of the species are gobbled up. Seems like something they would do. Despite the loud and disturbing chatterbox noise that they make, the creatures also appear to be stealth hunters, as shown when one of them silently reaches its nasty extending fingernail hand through a window to attempt to grab sleeping human prey.

The creatures have an alien physiology and are essentially a chimera of existing species. They are covered in hair, but calling them mammals just doesn’t seem right. Perhaps the most notable (and freaky) thing they do is their trademark chatterbox mouth movement. The creatures are able to open their jaws to python-level wideness, effectively splitting their faces in half. They are able to rapidly open and close their jaws to make a chattering, machine gun sound. It’s frightening as hell, and not without basis in nature. The Shoebill stork (a similarly terrifying animal) clatters its beak together to make a sound that puts an assault rifle to shame. Why? We don’t know exactly, but it’s likely how they say “hi” to one another, and possibly a mating call. Why do the Arcadian creatures clatter? Unless they are particularly gregarious and like to greet their prey, it’s more likely that they make this sound for the same reason cats chitter when they see a bird: because they want to eat it.

Despite the creatures’ famous clattering jaws, Arcadian makes it apparent that the creatures do not actually eat with the mouths on their faces. They have a second mouth located inside their bodies. This horrific little factoid is proven true in a scene where a creature captures and pins a helpless woman beneath it. The creature’s chest cavity then opens up and showers the woman with some sort of disgusting bodily fluid. A long, wormlike proboscis then descends out of the creature’s chest cavity, presumably to devour the poor woman. What is this chest-mouth thing? My guess is that the creatures eat like a fly or a starfish. Flies vomit up digestive fluid onto their food in order to more easily consume it. Starfish puke up their entire stomachs onto their meals and eat it that way. It’s possible that the Arcadian creature’s inner mouth is actually its stomach, or perhaps a digestive organ that leads directly to the stomach. The creature traps prey beneath it, opens its abdomen and covers its prey with digestive fluid, then consumes that prey with its stomach mouth thing. Hideous. Horrifying. No thank you.

The last alien thing these creatures do? They are able to extend, or rather grow their body parts at a rapid pace. One of the creatures reaches into an open window in order to attack a sleeping boy, and slowly begins to extend one of its claws toward the boy’s face. The claw gets really long, at least a yard or two.

How does the creature do this? Either its claw actually runs the length of its long arm, but the majority of that claw stays loaded in the arm until needed, then it pops out like Wolverine’s claw…. or more horribly, the creature is able to rapidly grow its own limbs. Ew ew ew ew ew. Given the creatures’ alien stomach mouths and impossibly fast head chatter movement, it’s more horribly likely that the latter explanation is true. Perhaps the creatures are able to grow their appendages through the use of a growth hormone in their bodies, which causes rapid cellular growth in a particular body part. Maybe this also explains the creatures’ ability to open their chests up and launch stomach mouths out of the cavity? They are able to manipulate their alien physiologies to meet their carnivorous needs.

Opinions on the creatures may differ, but I think we can all agree: They need to go.

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.