Film Review – Monsters

Monsters

Monsters was one of the sell-out screenings at FrightFest last week. First time director, Gareth Edwards was clearly emotional as he introduced his debut feature, made for a palty $15,000.

The movie focuses on photo-journalist Andrew Kalder (Scoot McNairy), who is in Mexico on assignment to get footage of “The Creatures”, an alien lifeform brought from space by a NASA shuttle which then exploded over Mexico, giving them chance to spawn and take over a large area. Kalder is ordered to pick up his boss’ daughter, Samantha (Whitney Able) and take get her to the US border before the area becomes compeltely quarantined.

What follows is part road trip, part bug fest, part burgeoning love story. Kalder accidentally prevents Samantha from getting on the boat that will take her to safety and instead they end up travelling by boat, foot and jeep through the “Infected Area”.

Let’s make this clear right away, this is not a horror movie. There are a couple of jumps from aural cues, and tension towards the end, but if you’re expecting a blood and guts horror flick you’re going to be disappointed.

However, don’t let that deter you, because Monsters is beautifully shot, well directed and acted and has elements of movies like Salvador and A Life Less Ordinary. The premise (microbes become rampaging space squid) is pure 50s, but there is no hyperbole, no screaming, just a variety of people reacting to an extraordinary circumstance. It moves mostly at a very gentle pace, with just enough exposition to keep the plot moving. We grown to understand the motivations of Sam and Kalder and see both the beauty and destruction through their eyes.

Make no mistake this is a beautiful film, there are some truly stunning shots and the aliens, both as in their early stages and fully grown are spectacularly realised. What is even more impressive is that these FX were done by Edwards himself on his own computer.

Reaction at FrightFest was mixed, some people lauding it as an extraordinary debut, other dismissing it as dull and insulting. It is certainly unusual, and I think a wonderful addition to the sci-fi canon. The sequencing of the story is neatly done, and McNairy and Able give wonderfully honest performances.

If there is any justice, this movie will be huge, but it’s slight pacing, lack of action and travelogue nature may be offputting to some, but personally I am in awe of what Edwards has achieved with limited funds and a wealth of imagination.

Monsters opens in the UK on December 3rd.

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~ by moviegrrlreviews on September 5, 2010.

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