Fantastic Fest ’10 – Monsters Review


More social commentary than monster movie.

By the title alone, you might think Monsters is a monster movie. If that idea sparks your particular movie loving interests, you might be inclined to search for the trailer, which shows the film as a monster movie. Monsters does have aliens, but don’t expect a District 9 or Cloverfield; it’s much more subtle than that.

Six years ago, NASA discovered alien life and sent out a space probe. That probe crashed into Mexico, and unknown life forms began to grow in the area. This area that extends the Mexican/Texas border, now known as “The Infected Area”, is controlled by both the US government and the Mexican government. Attempts at containing the life forms have been unsuccessful. Sam, an American girl, is stuck in Mexico and trying to get back to America. She meets up with an American photographer, Kaulder, who is willing to help her obtain clearance to return home. The safest route is by water but when the ferry boat falls through, the twosome is forced to head directly through “The Infected Area”.

The majority of the film focuses on the developing relationship between Sam and Kaulder; how they go from being complete strangers to developing romantic feelings while going through what is technically a war zone. It’s a romantic drama, in a setting that just happens to be littered with alien destruction. In fact, at the end of the film when we see the most extended footage with the aliens, they appear docile.

So then why is the film called Monsters? The film rather blatantly is telling us that people are the Monsters. “The Infected Area” is located directly at the border or US and Mexico, probably very conveniently for America. It’s forced border control. When Sam and Kaulder try to arrange ferry transportation to America, the salesman tells them that the fee is $5,000. When they try to negotiate, he persists: the fee is $5,000.

Director Gareth Edwards made Monsters for a budget of only $15,000, but it doesn’t look it. Shot mostly on location, the film looks beautiful. The monster effects aren’t very impressive at first, but when you realize how little money Edwards had to work with, it makes them seem infinitely better. Even though there isn’t very much monster footage in Monsters, it’s still an effective film and one worth seeing.

;Director: Gareth Edwards;
;Notable Cast: Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy;
;Writer(s): Gareth Edwards;

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