Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010)

What's it about? Set in the not-too-distant future, six years after a crashed space probe in Mexico has resulted in an alien species establishing itself in the area, which has subsequently been quarantined as an 'Infected Zone' and is patrolled by the US and Mexican military.  On the northern side of the Zone a giant wall has been built to protect the US, whilst on the southern side of the Zone, humans have become almost indifferent to the sporadic alien attacks, military bombing and checkpoint controls along the border. Within this war-zone-like setting, we are introduced to photojournalist (Scoot McNairy), who reluctantly agrees to escort his boss's daughter (Whitney Able) from Mexican to US soil, a job which ends up taking a risky trip through the Infected Zone.

Is it any good? From the title and description, you might be forgiven for expecting an action-packed alien gore-fest. Instead you get a low-key, meandering road movie/romance, which also scores some points as a mildly allegorical tale about US foreign policy and immigration. It reminded me of one of those holidays where you end up losing a passport, dealing with unhelpful officials, switching transports, travelling with strangers and generally ending up grubby in the process of getting home. Only difference is the occasional appearance of a few Cthulhu-like monsters and even they are less obnoxious than Ryanair staff. Nevertheless, for a film made on the cheap, it looks very impressive and the actors do enough to keep you watching.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Critics were pleasantly surprised and liked the fact it was striving for something a little more thoughtful than the average alien shoot-em-up. However, many of the general public were unpleasantly surprised and felt a little misled by the advertising and trailers. More than one punter took exception to the title, claiming it should have been called No Monsters instead. Gosh darn it, if only there were such a thing as a great movie review site that could warn you what to expect from movies such as this...

Anything else I should know? The making of the film is an impressive example of guerilla movie-making. A crew of just four (director, soundman, producer, translator) drove through Central America in a van with the actors, stopping every so often to shoot a quickly improvised scene or to grab random strangers to ask them to be in the film. At night, Edwards would edit the film on a laptop using bog-standard software and when they got back home, he used his SFX background to add in the CGI monsters, the signs and the wreckage, working in the hi-tech surroundings of his own bedroom. So what's stopping you?

What does the Fonz think? Enough ideas and achievement to keep it interesting. But for some it'll be a damp squid.

Buy it on Amazon

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