By Richard Brooks
Gone are the days of sci-fi classics such as 2001 and Silent Running ,and gone are the days when monster movies reflected our fears with such titles as Godzilla (fear of the atom bomb perverting nature) and The Fly (a tender love story where one partner cares for the other who is terminally ill).
Thankfully, with films such as District 9 and Moon, decent and metaphorical genre movies are returning and Monsters happily sits there as a startling blend of both.
Shot on a budget of £500,000; with a crew of four and a cast of two, director Gareth Edwards who shot, edited, wrote, directed and created the visual effects makes the most of his limited resources on his debut feature film. Crafting something that has more ideas than your average Hollywood film whilst bringing back the days of amateur film making.
The film is set six years after NASA discover the possibilty of life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples but crash landed on its return over South America. This leads to new life forms in the guise of gigantic tentacled aliens, which begin to infect and destroy great portions of Central America.
Flash forward to now and photo journalist Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is documenting the destruction of the creatures and hired by his publisher to bring daughter Samantha (Whitney Able) home.
Due to a series of mishaps and unforseen circumstances, the pair risk life and limb avaoiding collosal monsters (heard and glimpsed but never fully visualised) while all along growing closer to each other.
What makes the chemistry all the more believable is that in real life, actors McNarry and Able are married, lending an extra feeling of reality to the proceedings.
What is less real but quite impressive are the visual effects. Scenes of destruction easily recognised from the nightly news we watch, which are so real you wouldn’t notice they were effect shots at all.
The monsters are never fully seen during the movie. A tentacle here, a foot there and all the while their roars echo across the soundtrack; stopping a scene dead in its tracks.
When the monsters are finally fully viewed they are a thing of beauty and can almost be compared to the aliens from the film The Abyss, crossbred with some tentacled horror that author H P Lovecraft may have thought up.
On a final note, between the plot lines of Monsters lies an allegorical tale of our civilisation trying to stop the spread of an undesirable race. And one could almost compare it to Americas treatment of USA/Mexico border control or even the heated debates about imagration that trouble Europe on a daily basis.
As director George A Romero once commented: “A good horror or sci-fi movie at its core should have something to say about today’s society”. He should know, seeing as his 1978 zombie classic Dawn Of The Dead was not also a gut churning horror movie but also a critique on modern society’s cult of consumerism.
And this is what makes Monsters so great. A genre film with an original love story and it actually has something to say, which puts this film firmly among the ranks of sci-fi greats.
A thrilling, emotional and action packed film that is wholely original and utterly compelling. Place this with recent efforts like District 9 and Moon as an example of the return of good science fiction cinema
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