Monsters is a film shot, directed and written by Gareth Edwards. Created on a shoestring budget with a small crew, but it doesn’t show at all!
A fresh face on the Hollywood scene, Edwards started off as a CG visual FX technician and always wanted to make a ‘monster’ movie of his own. He won the Sci-Fi London’s 48-Hour Film Challenge in 2008, which already shows the building blocks of his style and his first steps towards making Monsters.
The basis of the movie is that a NASA space probe has crash landed in America bringing with it alien life forms. Six years later there is a massive section of land between the United States and Mexico sectioned off as ‘infected’. We have giant squid-like creatures roaming the land and the armed forces trying to stop them doing damage, but as always causing some themselves.
Right from the start of the movie (which has a slight Cloverfield feel), we get glimpses of the monsters in the midst of army grunts and gunfire all displayed in night vision. This changes quickly when morning comes; we are hit with the after effects all this is having on Mexico and its citizens.
The two main players of the movie are unwittingly thrown together. One is a journalist who just wants to get some good shots and get paid. The other is the boss’s daughter who he has been assigned to collect and look after.
Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy who play the leads do so brilliantly; they are really the only actors in the movie, Edwards decided to cast all other roles with extras that he met during travels across the country. This gives the movie and its characters’ journey a more natural feel. Adding to this is the fact that Able and McNairy were actually a couple during filming and are now married!
The movie focuses more on these characters and what happens to them, their relationship and keeps the science fiction to the background. The monsters themselves just feel like new wildlife learning and stumbling through our lives. I found their use of light very interesting. I was not sure whether they used it for feeding or communicating - or were they just attracted to it?
Watch out for some brilliantly shot scenes involving the appearance of a fin in the water and later the shocking aftermath of a real hurricane as our characters enter the US.
“I tell you what I've learned on this film: you can make a movie for nothing. You can make a film for 10 grand, 10 million, whatever you want.” Gareth Edwards
I wish more directors/producers would learn from this. We would then have fewer movies like Transformers 2 and more like Monsters! When it comes to Gareth Edwards, definitely watch this space in the future!
Stefan Harkins would like to thank Cineworld, Cheltenham for making review possible..