Monsters (2010)

Monsters (2010)

Static Mass Rating: 5/5

Release Date: December 3rd, 2010
Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 93 minutes

Director: Gareth Edwards

Cast: Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy

Monsters, a low-budget sci-fi film by Gareth Edwards made for $500,000 is an example of impressive filmmaking on a modest budget when you have a great story.

The film stars Scoot McNairy as press photographer Kaulder, escorting his boss’s daughter Samantha (Whitney Able) across the US border from Mexico. They live in a world different from ours.

Six years ago, a NASA probe carrying samples of alien life crashed over Central America on its return journey to Earth. Shortly afterwards, evidence of a new life form began appearing and half of Mexico has been quarantined and declared an ‘infected zone’.

Monsters (2010)

Edwards dreamt about making a film like Monsters for a long time since finishing film school. As a BAFTA award winning & EMMY nominated visual effects creator for the BBC he knew he wanted to keep things simple where locations, crew and actors were concerned and set out to make his own feature capitalising on CGI skills, and combine it with the approach he had always wanted. Whilst on holiday he realised he could build his entire story around everyday situations and locations:

“I sat watching the other fishermen laughing and taking the mickey out of the poor guy struggling with this net and thought it would be brilliant if a giant tentacle was attached. I thought if only I had my camera I could just shoot it there and then. There’s so much production value in exotic locations where you don’t have any complications; you can shoot what happens and then manipulate the story to fit once you get back to the computer.”

“I wrote down how I would approach making a film like this rather than a specific storyline and Vertigo loved the idea. We then spent 3 months coming up with a story until we were all happy.”

Monsters (2010)

The story is the glue which holds the film together. When we first meet Kaulder, he is a press photographer determined to catch his big break and he sees his time in Mexico as his opportunity. Knowing that his boss will pay big bucks for money shots like the creatures or a small child killed by one of them, it’s clear what he has to do if he wants the money. At the same time, he is not a one dimensional character, there is another side to him; he has a son and longs to be part of his life even though the boy doesn’t know he is his father. When Kaulder meets Samantha, he sees her as a hindrance to his journey but his boss forces him into escorting her to the border. At first he thinks she is spoilt and a waste of his time. In many ways, they both see each other as monsters.

Monsters (2010)

During the course of the movie, as we get to know them, they lower their walls and let each other in. The glimpses we see of these monsters gradually become portraits of beautiful creatures by the end. The same can be said for the actual ‘creatures’.

They are only glimpsed, but the little we see of them makes a huge impact. Edwards, having grown up with films like Jurassic Park (1993), the director said he wanted to make ‘The most realistic monster film ever’. He also wanted to make a love story that didn’t make him cringe and a sci-fi movie where the premise wasn’t totally unbelievable.

“I did some research on one of the moons of Jupiter called Europa which, scientists say, has the highest chance of there being life on it and NASA apparently wanted to send a probe up there to try and bring something back. So I thought if they did, it could easily crash and bring with it micro-organisms which could then infect the area it ends up in. In our case, the Mexican Ocean.”

The performances given by Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy are very natural and believable, probably made all the more so because they are a real-life couple, another thing which Edwards was searching for when casting the roles. He wanted the actors to have a chemistry which was real and for the dialogue to be as organic as possible so he let them improvise with a set amount of direction.

Monsters (2010)

With Monsters, what Edwards has managed to do is bring together a very impressive film which adds something new to the sci-fi genre while at the same time, using it to tell us something about human nature set against the backdrop of a world that could one day be our future.

“I’m really proud of it. There were definitely times I wasn’t sure I could carry on but I feel I’ve really made something that I want to go and see at the cinema. In a dream world I’d say it’s the first love story a bloke would want to go and see and the first monster movie I’m confident a girl would love; one that hits the radar for both. I also love that it doesn’t hang on visual FX, it’s more about the journey these two people go on both literally and emotionally’.

Another aspect of the movie which helped in us rating it, is the score provided by Jon Hopkins. The British born musician has already worked with artists such as Brian Eno, Four Tet, Massive Attack and Coldplay has contributed with a score that is overwhelming sensitive although completely electronic. It fits the mood of the desolate landscapes and wild jungles perfectly.

They only thing left to decide is whether or not Kaulder took the picture of the dead child…

2 Responses to “Monsters (2010)”

  1. JohnnyW Says:

    Great review/write-up. Also: No, he didn’t.

  2. ADLF Says:

    Liked this Sci-Fi movie.

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