The movie also has a cameo appearance by notorious scream queen Julie Strain as herself; video game posters, Evil Dead: Hail to the King and Baldur's Gate are among them; and a pinball machine from Tales from the Crypt. The title of the video game featured in this film is a portmanteau of evil and evolution.
The movie's main protagonist in the last parts of the film looks like Lisa Rogan from The House of the Dead III.
Tagline: What started out as a simple game... Became a virtual nightmare.
The story opens with Clayton Software's latest video game, Evilution, in its testing stages.
The beginning focuses on a brief introduction of the main characters: Young, 24-year-old intern Laura Wheeler (Clea DuVall) receives worst results of the game's monster which forces the development team out. Businessman Peter Drummond (Steven Culp) hires three new programmers: Former wrestler and criminal Hardcore (Tyler Mane), Bug (Jason Marsden), and Sol (Karim Prince) into making weapons, sound and music, and game artificial intelligence, respectively. The developers are informed of a prize money of a million dollars by Faye Clayton (Colleen Camp), it will be awarded to the programmer who makes the game the "scariest", using various means of motivation and innovation.
The film then jumps to a time three weeks later, where Laura returns to the building with her groceries, to witness the three highly competitive programmers progressing well, although the competition fosters a sense of distrust and rivalry among them. At that time, Julie Strain arrives and the three men decide to hold a motion capture session to create character animation. One stormy night, Bug, Hardcore, and Sol watches Julie performing her actions with a motion capture suit (with her breasts fully exposed). But, a sudden lightning strike on the building causes an electrical surge, resulting in all the computers and electronic equipment to go offline, and all data the programmers are previously working on is lost. Peter goes out to restore the power, and the programmers are trying to get all of the computers back and examine what's wrong with the mainframe.
The three developers have a meeting with Drummond. Then, Laura joins in and decides that they go and play their own game. Sol and Hardcore hand the gamepads to Bug and Laura, and themselves as well. Peter puts a backup CD into the external drive. Sol runs into problems with his controller and finds out that the controller's wires are cut, Bug fight with Sol, causing to lose all together. They are surprised to see Laura finishing the first level, making her way to the final boss in the game. Hardcore is at the second level when he loses the game, making Laura the longest to survive.
Peter invites the 24-year-old to dinner, and they discuss about the business in gaming. He tells her that, the key to success is to become a ruthless monster.
Meanwhile, back in the offices, Sol inserts his brand new AI chip into the mainframe. To Sol's surprise, the game finishes up all by itself. As he advances to the game's third level, the motion capture apparatus that is connected on the computer network comes alive. Sol, goes out, but the suit disappears. He returns and continue playing, knocking the in-game monster out, causing the motion capture suit to fall down. But he doesn't sense anything, so he again continues to play until he falls victim to the suit when he falls down below his desk, as the player is being dragged by a monster emerging from the waters. The suit's hand appears and grabs his hand reaching the desk, and the computer screen flashes "Lives Remaining 4".
The next day, Bug and Hardcore are surprised to find Sol's dead body, and the backup CD is gone. He feels that Hardcore is responsible, but he prevents him from calling the police and instead resume development of the game. Peter and Laura arrive to work alongside with them, forcing the other two to distract them. She checks her e-mail account, only to receive threatening e-mails from her boyfriend Jeremy (Danny Masterson). Hardcore is trying to review the security cams to see the murder of Sol through his PDA, but he touches the suit merged with Sol's dead body, instead of the phone. It tries to attack Hardcore, but he uses the axe to take it down. Laura is calling (possibly she wants to call her father or someone else) when she hears Hardcore is being attacked. Bug comes in, and seeing Hardcore holding an axe verifies Bug's initial suspicions that he is Sol's killer. While he confront Hardcore, the suit is gone, leaving Sol's body headless, and Laura and Peter don't believe the suit has come to life. Hardcore tells Drummond to leave quickly after Laura and Bug run away, and continues to hunt. He does not know that the suit is actually behind him. The three survivors soon find out that Hardcore is not lying as they watch his murder in horror. After Hardcore's death, the suit assimilates Hardcore's muscular body. Then, it takes all of Hardcore's weapons and decorative pieces, making it a more striking resemblance of the monster in the game.
Bug finds out why: the lightning strike must have caused the mainframe to go haywire, combined with the suit and Sol's powerful AI chip, the real world turns into a deadly game. Laura and Peter suggest the only way by pulling the plug on the computer, but Bug points out that without the backup disc, killing the suit would cause the game's source code to erase completely. She is then confused as the two guys are thinking how to disable the system. But he chooses to listen to reason and figures on doing the right thing, with Bug following him, in hopes of trying to keep the information on the game intact.
Bug enters the mainframe room to investigate, and he figures out which is the correct set of wires to pull out. While providing backup for him, Peter is attacked by the monster at the doorway. Thanks to Bug, he is able to escape barely, but the security system malfunctions, sealing all of the shutters, windows, and doors, and leaving the three survivors stranded in darkness, only to be illuminated by the building's low-power emergency lights. Afterwards, Jeremy approaches the Clayton building, and Peter, Laura and Bug shout for help. Sadly, he doesn't hear their pleading voices and simply walks away. Laura manages to catch Jeremy's attention, and the boyfriend tries to abuse her with his own words. Drummond is united with her, injured on his right shoulder. She takes off her shirt, revealing a singlet underneath, and heal Peter's wound quickly. Then, she and Peter find Bug through the building's map.
Bug finds himself dropped into the kitchen area from the shafts above, and while trying to get up, he is attacked and mocked by the monster. As Peter and Laura are crossing from above the ceiling, he accidentally exposes a gasline and his body is thrown across the kitchen. The monster approaches near Bug, but he raises his lighter, and lights it up, taking both the monster and himself out. Peter and Laura escapes the explosion rampaging the shafts, and are thrown down. Laura and Peter goes out to find Bug, only to see the charred remains. They find Bug's dead body, and she kisses the dead body before she covers it in a blanket.
Peter is unable to open the door since the security system is powerless. While he is trying to take out the keypad, the actual monster comes back to life, but before it kills Drummond, Laura fights it through the virtual space with a gamepad, saving Peter from his untimely demise. Later, she tries to beat the game, but it proves ineffective and she becomes frustrated and hysterical. Peter slaps her in the face, but she slaps him back, and he wonders when she is going to learn, and suggests wearing a VR headset. She wears it nervously, and hear Peter's assurances that he will stay with her and the controller try to overcome the game. In the middle of playing, she finds that Peter is gone and the monster shows up, shredding her jacket with its sword. Laura escapes and comes to the same hole left by an explosion in the kitchen, but she is thrown down by the monster. She gets up and finds a PDA to contact the outside world, only to see the video showing Peter stealing the game's backup CD, which would allow the programmers to reverse compile the game, effectively shutting the monster down.
As Peter is trying to get the door open, he is distracted by the same video of him taking the disc away, and Laura confronts and forces him to drop the CD at gunpoint. He tells her that he has the same disc, and makes a speech about how everyone ultimately is a monster and the such. The 24-year-old initially lowers her gun down, but shoots Peter in the knee and walks off. As he raises the crossbow at her, she tricks him, and the real monster appears and kills him by grabbing his head up in the air as she walks away; the text "Lives remaining 1" flashes across the computer screen nearby. With four men are dead, Laura is alone, becoming the only survivor left and mirrors herself to the female player model in the game.
She puts on a VR headset and gloves, acquiring a sword, and the final ferocious showdown between Laura and the monster, simultaneously in the real and virtual worlds, ensues. During the fight, her voice are childish, but she manages to kick the monster three times before she is knocked down to the game testing room. There, she manages to lure the monster to a fish tank nearby and smash it open with her sword, causing the water to spill towards the suit. The monster has been electrocuted, and she stabs her sword on the monster's body, finally killing the suit, and causing the mainframe to go offline, and the game's source code to be gone forever.
Evilution, in reality, at last impresses the game testers, and Laura uses the game's success to be appointed as a ruthless and evil CEO of the company, which is renamed as Wheeler Software. At this time, she is changed, indeed becoming a monster, which makes the movie's title ambiguous.
|Clea DuVall (as Clea Duvall)||Laura Wheeler||The main protagonist of this movie The final girl is generally a protagonist. She appears as a 24-year-old intern of Clayton Software, and the second shortest before Bug. After Bug's death, she is the only shortest. She survives the slaughter by the actual monster, and eventually develops sword-fighting skills to end this slaughter. She becomes an evil CEO of the company in the final part of the film. She is also kind hearted and a push over. She is a teenage-looking girl, and is rumored to be an orphaned daughter, but she has an abusive boyfriend.|
|Steven Culp||Peter S. Drummond||The movie's main antagonist. He appears as a hardened businessman to Clayton Software, leading his band of developers as a project manager. He is first attacked by the monster while providing backup for Bug. After Bug's death, he is saved from his untimely death. Later, he is revealed to have stolen the copy of the evil monster for the game. Last victim of the real game monster.|
|Tyler Mane||Hardcore||The muscular developer who is responsible for designing the game's weapons for motion capture sessions. He is the tallest, and more physically imposing than the other characters. When he is attacked by the suit with Sol's dead body, he first takes it down, but meets his death at the hands of the monster as Peter, Laura and Bug run away. His body is incorporated into the motion capture suit to bear its similarity to the monster in the video game.|
|Jason Marsden||Bug||The developer who creates the sound and music for the game. He is the shortest of all characters. Falls in the kitchen while fighting the monster, but uses the broken gasline to heroically sacrifice himself to destroy the monster. Gets his kiss, and covered in a cloth.|
|Karim Prince||Sol||The developer who programs the AI for the game. He is the first to be killed by the motion-capture suit which has been brought to life by the lightning strike. His body and head is incorporated into the suit, with the two silver stress balls grafted into his eye sockets. However, the body is detached after Hardcore takes the suit down.|
|Julie Strain||Herself||She arrives and wears a motion-capture suit in preparations for character animation.|
|James Sullivan||Monster||A monster that is brought to life from a motion capture suit as a result of the power overload caused by a lightning strike. Is killed by Laura Wheeler, not before it killed Sol, Hardcore, Bug, and Peter Drummond. Consisted of Hardcore's body and Sol's head.|
|Te'ron A. O'Neal||Kid #1||One of the members of the testing group.|
|Aaron Fors||Kid #2||One of the members of the testing group.|
|Brittney Lee Harvey||Kid #3||One of the members of the testing group.|
|Maysen Michaels||Kid #4||One of the members of the testing group.|
|Eric Michael Zee (as Eric Zee)||Programmer||One of the programmers.|
|Hillary Tuck (as Hilary Tuck)||New Intern||A bright-eyed, idealistic intern who wants to be an entrepreneur.|
|Scott Wordham||Laura's Assistant||The assistant to Laura Wheeler.|
|Jeff Edwards||Puppeteer||One of the puppeteers who handle animation in the game.|
|Shane Mahan||Puppeteer||One of the puppeteers who handle animation in the game.|
|Colleen Camp||Faye Clayton||The head of the computer software company Clayton Software.|
How to Make a Monster was released on DVD on June 11, 2002. It is presented in anamorphic widescreen, appearing sharp and detailed features. Its audio is presented in 5.1 surround sound in English and French. In addition, it contains subtitles, and extra features, including a "making-of" featurette, a few photo galleries with drawings, behind-the-scenes images and theatrical trailers for some other Columbia TriStar horror titles, a few short filmographies on the principle cast and crew, and some DVD-ROM content for a personal computer.