Time Out rating:
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Time Out says
Tue Nov 30 2010It would be sad if the story of how British filmmaker Gareth Edwards created his captivating, micro-budget sci-fi film was to obscure its far greater achievement, being as it is a seamless blending of romance, road movie and monster flick. Shot guerrilla-style on location in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico – with two lead actors and local non-professionals improvising dialogue within a loose structure – ‘Monsters’ immerses the audience in a near-future world where the Mexican population has become blasé about the destruction wrought by giant, squid-like alien beings.
A few years after a Nasa space probe broke up on re-entry, a quarantined ‘infected zone’ stretches across Mexico to the US border – and it is through this zone that frustrated photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) must escort his boss’s daughter, Sam (Whitney Able). This exhausting, epic journey involves trains, pick-up trucks, backhanders, boats, guards and ominous sounds from the jungle.
Desperate comparisons have been made with ‘District 9’ and ‘Cloverfield’ (not least by the film’s own marketing), but the digitally enhanced texture of the atmospheric ‘Monsters’ – with its weatherbeaten signs, barely glimpsed creatures and edgy encounters – evokes a sweaty, nervous reality rather than a clean, hard-edged artificiality. With the notable exception of the moving monster climax, the best scenes are the quiet, human ones, such as Kaulder flirting with Sam in a seedy hotel while scenes of monster mayhem are only glimpsed on a fuzzy black-and-white TV set. There’s an implicit political dimension too, with constant American bombing raids and a border wall designed to keep unwanted aliens out of the US.
Author: Nigel Floyd