Director – Gareth Edwards
Cast – Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy
Release Year – 2010
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Monsters is an indie sleeper flick I have been anticipating since first reading of the film back during Austin’s SXSW week back in March. Apparently coming in with a production budget of a mere $15,000, Monsters delivers on what I wanted to see, monsters, and comes with an interesting plot that brings several elements that make this much more than your usual horror film.
Six years ago NASA attained information that life existed somewhere within our solar system. A probe was launched to attain samples, but upon re-entry into our atmosphere the probe was damaged and crash-landed in Central America. Soon after, giant and deadly creatures erupted from Central America, forcing a war between humans and aliens, and leaving half of Mexico quarantined as an Infected Zone. Fast forward to present time and cynical US photojournalist Andrew Kaulder(Scoot McNairy) has agreed to escort the shaken Samantha Wynden(Whitney Able; All The Boys Love Mandy Lane, Unearthed), the daughter of one of Andrew’s employers, across the Mexican Infected Zone to the safety of the US border. What seems like a safe operation soon turns dangerous when problems arise, and the Americans realize the true destructive potential of the creatures they must escape.
If you know me then you know I love any film involving giant creatures, and that was the biggest reason behind my desire to view this film. First-time feature film director Gareth Edwards does a fantastic job giving us a film with a high production value despite having very low production funds. From the get-go of the opening scene we are thrown into the chaos that would adorn the film from time to time, and I immediately got the feeling of an “art house” Cloverfield, and the rest of the film played off as such. Edwards’ camerawork is fantastic, and his background in visual FX is put to the test in this watch, showing that much like Neil Blompkamp with District 9, you don’t need to hire some fancy FX team to do your work. The FX in this watch are awesome, especially when you consider the film’s low budget, and look and mannerisms of the creatures is amazing as well. Without spoiling too much, they came off a bit like giant octopuses walking around, although they walk at a much higher level, very much like the Lovecraftian creatures in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. We get some really good chaotic fight scenes between the creatures and both Mexican and American military forces, which comprise the majority of the film’s action sequences. Some of you may be surprised to hear me say this, but this watch does come with a very high dramatic element, making this much more than your usual horror film. Edwards expertly executes the drama to us, and achieves great performances from both of our title actors.
As far as story goes I really liked the overall plot, as well as everything else that came with it. I loved the idea of NASA discovering potential life outside our planet, especially the idea of the probe coming back and delivering to us the very life we were seeking, and with disastrous results. The rest of the overall plot is simple, with our title characters trying to make their way past the infected zone to the safety of the US border. Within this quest is where the drama kicks in, involving the somewhat polar opposites of our title characters, and the revelations they not only learn about each other, but about the creatures they are running from. For such a mostly simple film, we do get a fair amount of different elements thrown into this watch, which helps with the pacing and keeping the viewer’s interest. To make things better, Edwards’ direction compliments this, giving us a great combo of both writing and direction.
Overall, this is a great giant creature film that delivers much more than the usual antics we get in such flicks thanks to a well-written story. Awesome direction brings forth some awesome creatures and creature action, and once again we are given a low-budget watch that gives us horror fans what we seek in overly cliché sub-genres…creativity.