Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
The Stars: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
The Story: Six years ago, a NASA deep-space probe crashes in Central America. Soon extraterrestrial creatures begin to appear and thrive over large swaths of Mexico leading to the quarantine of nearly half the country as an ‘Infected Zone’. The U.S. erects an enormous wall along its border to keep the aliens out as both nations’ militaries struggle to contain the spread of the tentacled-monsters through aggressive air-strikes and defoliation.
Present day, Andrew Kaulder, a grizzled photojournalist for a major American newspaper is tasked to escort his boss’ daughter, Sam Wynden, back to the States from Mexico. Though reluctant to leave his beat in the world’s strangest combat zone, this is a job he cannot refuse. Their journey to the U.S. coast inevitably turns perilous after missing the last ferry out of town. Instead they are forced to sneak across the border by trekking through the ‘Infected Zone’.
The Buzz:Monsters was nominated for six British Independent Film Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Achievement in Production with director Gareth Edwards eventually capturing the Best Director prize. Hailed as an astounding feat of DIY filmmaking, Edwards wrote, directed, cinematographed and created all the special effects himself (using off-the shelf Adobe software and Autodesk 3ds Max), all on a shoe-string budget.
inSing says:Monsters is a granular and homespun production but rather than being a detriment, it’s those very qualities that gives Edwards’ directorial debut its charm. This isn’t a gimmick aesthetic like Cloverfield was, Monsters is lo-fi, smudgy filmmaking at its finest - a guerrilla-indie that puts big budget alien-invasion movies to shame with its heart and storytelling. Edwards was originally an FX artist but unlike his fellow FX-to-auteur contemporaries The Brothers Strause (who helmed garbage like Skyline), Edwards has a strong grasp on how to craft vivid characters and a moody narrative.
Much like Neil Blomkamp’s apartheid allegory District 9, this film is set after awe has passed, and settles into a time where the idea that aliens reside among us have become commonplace and ordinary. The local Mexican population have even adjusted the lifestyles according the monsters’ annual migration patterns. The focus though isn’t really about the aliens so much as what they are metaphors for (political parables on immigration and American insularism abound). In fact, the humongous squid-like creatures are rarely seen and action sequences are brief because Monsters wiselyprefers to linger on the quiet complexities of two immensely personable and watchable protagonists caught in a quagmire.
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia. Hidzir is the winner of the inaugural inSing Movie Lover contest that garnered over 1,000 participants. The Movie Lover contest is a search for a candidate who possesses outstanding passion for movies and a talent for writing engaging movie reviews.