MOVIE REVIEW | Monsters (2010)

Monsters 1
“Y’know… it’s different looking at America from the outside… in. Y’know just sitting right outside, and looking in.”

Gareth Edwards’ next movie is one of the Star Wars spin offs. Gareth Edwards’ last movie was the massive budget, big summer blockbuster latest take on Godzilla. Before that, he had only made one feature length movie. It had no stars and was made for almost no money. So, how does a dude go from making a no name, no budget debut, to getting the keys to franchises like Godzilla and Star Wars? He used his no stars and no money, and made a really cool movie that proves you don’t need stars or money. That’s how.  

Six years ago, a space probe crash landed back on Earth. Landing in Mexico, it resulted in large, dangerous, killer aliens rampaging in the area. To combat them, much of northern Mexico and the southern United Sates have been declared an infected zone and quarantined. America has even gone to the trouble of building an enormous wall the keep the creatures out. Working as a photo journalist in Mexico, Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is given a new assignment by his boss. Andrew must find his boss’ daughter (Whitney Able as Sam), who is in Mexico, and get her back to America.

The first part is taken care of surprisingly quickly and easily, as Andrew finds Sam recovering in hospital with a sprained wrist. Andrew takes her to a ferry where they buy a ticket that will transport her back to America. With a full lock down and extreme quarantine being enforced the next day, missing this ferry will mean being stuck in Mexico for at least another six months. So of course, Sam misses that ferry. And the only way home is via land, through the infected zone, with the threat of running into alien creatures every step of the way.

Low budget and low profile, Monsters is a pretty great example of making more with less. It was shot on location. Often with no permits or pre-planning. Director/writer/camera operator Gareth Edwards would show up with his two main actors, his tiny crew, and just shoot in cool looking locations, with locals filling in as extras, and even talking some of the more substantial supporting parts. Maybe this is the kind of thing that’s easy to see with the hindsight of knowing that, but I think it added a real energy and believability to the story and characters. While the characters on screen are figuring things out on the fly and tackling each new obstacles as it arises, Edwards and his crew were doing the same thing behind the scenes. And you have to assume that influenced the performances.

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The other great example of making more with less, is the depiction of the creatures. I remember when this movie came out, every interview I heard or review I read, mentioned that Edwards did all the creature special effects himself, in his bedroom, on his regular old computer. That’s impressive. What’s more impressive, is how he uses that restriction as a strength. We don’t see the creatures a whole lot. When we do, they’re often obscured by darkness, or grainy night vision footage, or we’re seeing it on a TV news report on the background. If Monsters was a big budget, studio movie, we would have seen them a lot more often, in a lot more detail. And lost a lot of the fear, mystery and tension that comes with never quite seeing them in all their glory.

Directed By – Gareth Edwards
Written By – Gareth Edwards

Other Opinions Are Available. What did these people have to say about Monsters?
The A.V Club
Roger Ebert
The Craggus

2 thoughts on “MOVIE REVIEW | Monsters (2010)

  1. Great review. Sums up the biggest strengths of this movie. Haven’t seen the sequel but it looks weirdly different with a lot more focus on the actual aliens. Hope it’s as good as this movie.

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