Review: Monsters

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I don’t want to go home

There’s something that doesn’t quite click with Monsters.

Despite all the praise that’s been given (well deserved in some aspects), it underwhelms for the most part.

The film’s characters are its focal points, more so than their situation or the visuals, so it disappoints to see that the characters aren’t very effective or interesting to watch.

Monsters is a curious film with an interesting conceit. NASA sends a probe to study for evidence of extra-terrestrials. It crash lands in Mexico and aliens emerge leading to the US and Mexican government setting up a containment zone.

No one can go through this zone, ferries are the only way to get from Mexico to the US. The two central characters are Samantha (Whitney Able) a tourist in Mexico and Andrew (Scoot McNairy) a photo journalist sent to escort her over the border.

The film shares similiarities with more recent entries in the genre such as District 9 and Cloverfield, in the idea of normal people living through an otherworldly event. Unlike those films Monsters features barely any action. Its a different kind of science-fiction film and its certainly an experience to watch.

The idea of containment in science-fiction is not a new one but the way its done in Monsters is fascinating. Having swathes of the country locked off from the real world because its infected with aliens is an alluring idea.

If only the characters were as interesting as the conceit because they never gain your interest and that is down to the screenplay, direction and the editing. The editing is the biggest bone of contention as its constantly cuts this way and that, never allowing the film to settle and the characters to breath. Scenes are never long enough to give a the viewer a chance to be interested in the characters.

There isn’t enough depth to the characters and although the film hints at the problems they have at home the film never delves into it.

And the title is a misleading one. The aliens aren’t monsters in the strictest sense, they’re treated so because they’re seen as a threat. The wake of their destruction is all over the film, whether it’s destroyed buildings or affected communities, but as the film alludes to at the end they’re much more than that.

Despite the negativity of this review, this is still a likeable film. Weirdly, the ending worked when it really shouldn’t and ending up giving the film the jolt it needed.

Monsters will disappoint some, alienate others and probably fascinate others. For me it did all these things. For its budget (a reported $800,000) and what it may represent for the future of small scale filmmaking, its astounding, but as a film it doesn’t totally satisfy. It has its head in the right place, but lacks the quality to make it brilliant.

7/10

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Posted on 31/12/2010, in Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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