Written and directed by Gareth Edwards
Starring Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
British filmmaker Gareth Edwards shot “Monsters” with a four-person crew, two actors and a reported budget of $500,000. The result is a most unlikely hybrid — an indie alien-invasion movie.
“Monsters” takes place six years after a NASA probe containing alien specimens explodes over Central America, carpeting Mexico with giant tentacled aliens (never mind the logistics of how). Thanks to military firepower and monolithic boundary walls, the aliens have been contained to a large swath of northern Mexico. It’s through this “Infected Zone” that Kaulder (Scoot McNairy), a photojournalist, must whisk Sam (Whitney Able), his boss’ daughter, back to the safety of the U.S.
Edwards deserves gobs of credit for conjuring up a pretty good digital-effects movie at a fraction of the budget most studios would spend. From military set pieces to the aliens themselves, his CG wizardry is convincing and atmospheric. While the small budget/big-gish effects make for an impressive backstory, though, the tale itself is inexcusably dull. It’s essentially 90 minutes of colorless, mildly flirtatious banter between a couple of pretty-faced 20-somethings. As you pine for some kind of “Romancing the Stone” adversity, all they do is politely listen to each other wax on about life. Bo-ring.
The chilling twist at the end will test your recall skills (hint: pay close attention to the opening scene), but it’s too little, too late. Kudos for the visual handiwork, boo to the story.