Monsters * * 1/2
Director: Gareth Edwards.
Screenplay: Gareth Edwards.
Starring: Scoot McNary, Whitney Able, Annalee Jefferies, Justin Hall, Victor Vejan.
Gareth Edwards deserves plaudits aplenty for this directorial debut. Not only is he the director, he’s also the writer, the cinematographer, the production designer and as if that’s not enough, he’s does the special-effects aswell. The only one that really needs honed though, is his writing.
Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is an American photojournalist working in Central America. After a phone call, he’s compelled to pick up his boss’ daughter, Sam (Whitney Able), from hospital and see that she gets back home to America safely. Thus begins a fraught journey – and a tentative romance – as a series of mishaps force the pair to trek through ‘The Infected Zone’, a strip of land along the US border inhabited by gigantic extra-terrestrial creatures.
After being warned that this film was far from a big budget effects laden sci-fi, I went into this actually knowing what to expect. However, I still left it feeling disappointed. It’s undeniably impressive in being shot on a shoestring budget, using only one camera and a cast that consisted of only two trained actors, but overall, it’s frankly boring. It thinks it’s way more deeper than it actually is and there’s a massive essential ingredient missing from it… a story. It’s high on atmosphere and ambience but very low on excitement and thrills. I realise that Edwards shot the film as and when he could, without any pre-planned scripted scenes – which I greatly admire – but it doesn’t make for very good entertainment. The two unknown leads give fine performances but are left with a lot of staring into the beyond with slow meditative shots as they ponder their feeling for one another. The aliens or ‘creatures’ are kept to a minimum and finally when our two protaganists are treated to a touch of soft core alien porn, it helps them realise their own feelings. The title of the film is also a problem. Yes, it may well just be reffering to the American army, leaving devestation in their wake with their Gung-ho approach in eradicating the alien entities, rather than ‘monsters’ being the entities themselves. However, I still think the title is as misleading as the pace is misjudged.
An impressive low-budget shoot that definitely looks the part but despite it being hard to criticise a film that has been molded by the talents of one man, it’s still highly uneventful and painfully dull. It’ll be interesting to see what Gareth Edwards does next though, he’s certainly got the skills.