Starring: Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy
Distributor: Madman Entertainment
Runtime: 93 mins. Reviewed in Nov 2011
There certainly are monsters in this brief drama about an alien invasion but, compared with an effects-governed matinee show like Skyline, which abounds in visuals of the monsters, this is a rather more modest film, a bit more thoughtful too.We are informed at the outset that there have been NASA explorations of outer space and that, on its return, one vehicle crashed in Mexico, letting loose a mutating virus that is monstrous and devastating to humans and to civilisation as well. (Have we forgotten all about Roswell and all those aliens by now and concentrated in the movies on variations on The War of the Worlds and Independence Day!)
While there are some visuals of the monsters, they are brief and all the more effective for that, until a final vision which is not quite what we expected.
In the meantime a journalist-photographer is asked by his boss to forego his opportunity to make a name for himself in this crisis and to accompany the boss’s daughter back to the safety of the US. We see the devastation that the monsters have wrought on cities and buildings (very effective because director, Gareth Edwards, has been working solidly in these departments for films and television for almost ten years).
This means that Monsters is more of a journey film than a horror film, although there are quite a number of episodes, especially in the Mexican jungles, that offer some tingles of terror.
The focus is on the couple and the difficulties in their journey: finding a ferry to take them to the US and the exorbitant prices, passport restraints and robberies, kindly members of an outlying village, trekking on foot with people smugglers, the decreasing number of guides.
Then you begin to wonder what the film-makers had in mind when they set the film in Mexico. On the map shown, half of Mexico, the part adjacent to the US, is seen to be the infected area. The Americans have built a huge wall, with ramparts, to keep the illegals out as they journey north to the border against difficult odds. An allegory of self-centred and xenophobic Americans and the fear of monsters and infection from south of the border? (In Roland Emmerich’s The Day After Tomorrow, when the northern part of the world froze, the Americans were making their way in droves to cross the Rio Grande to find safety in Mexico!)
Be that as it may, Monsters is a more ‘art-house’ terror film than a multiplex horror show.
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