(Gareth Edwards, 2010, USA)
Shot on location in New Mexico and featuring a cast of relatively unknown actors, Gareth Edwards has made a low-budget, mini-masterpiece in Monsters, a mesh of typical genre aesthetics and raw human emotions, featuring two protagonists you can really connect with. A rarity in the science fiction genre, one can argue.
The plot centres on pessimistic journalist Andrew Kaulder who agrees to accompany an American tourist to the safety of the US border, where she will be reunited with her domineering father. What makes this task challenging is the hazardous infected zone they must travel through, spanning a large part of Mexico and is occupied by hostile extraterrestrials.
Monster’s strengths lie in its simplicities; the aliens are rarely seen and the action is sporadic, which is admittedly frustrating but effective in equal measure. Overuse would render the film similar to a bog standard B-movie spectacle but minimum focus will easily irk audiences. Thankfully, Monsters’ holds just the right amount of exposure to keep the audience on the edge of their seats throughout its slender 90 minute runtime.
Beautifully shot and capably handled, the film is a heartfelt and touching exploration of these two troubled characters which just happens to feature extraterrestrials as a backdrop to the central narrative. With rickety camerawork that rivals (but never copies) the gimmicky Cloverfield and a narrative that combines elements from many alien based movies, predominantly last year’s enjoyable District 9, Edwards’s film excels in keeping the audience’s attentions close and their anticipations even closer.
Cloverfield, 2008. [Film] Directed by Matt Reeves, USA: Paramount Pictures.
District 9, 2009. [Film] Directed by Neill Blomkamp, USA/New Zealand: TriStar Pictures.
Monsters, 2010. [Film] Directed by Gareth Edwards, UK: Vertigo Films.