Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
What's it about
The world has been infected by extraterrestrial 'monsters'. In Mexico, a photojournalist has been recruited by his boss to pick up his daughter, who is getting out of the hospital, having injured her wrist. It's his job to bring her home to the USA at all costs.
Is it good movie?
I had heard a lot about Monsters before I watched it. It is definitely a buzz-worthy film right now, so I was looking forward to seeing it without a doubt. I had expected something like District 9 or Cloverfield and can say without hesitation that although this film has bits and pieces of this sort of style in it, but is definitely not like those films.
Honestly, I have a hard time recommending this film to hardcore horror lovers. To the average person, I think it'd be an easier sell and they might enjoy it more. The reason for this is because Monsters really doesn't have a lot of meat to it in a horror sense. Although you get to see the beasts from time to time, they don't really do much. This isn't a detrimental thing; I thought this movie was pretty compelling. However, if you're watching this movie to see huge terrifying monsters wreaking havoc, look elsewhere.
The truth is that Monsters is a romantic drama that simply happens to take place during an era where alien creatures live on earth. There are infected 'zones', giant fences built to try and contain the creatures and exorbitant travel costs if you want to get somewhere safely. The monsters themselves are presented really well, kept in the shrouds until the last moments when you get to see a couple of them up close. This is a really good idea. Only showing silhouettes or a tentacle here and there not only saves on the effects budget, but leaves a lot to the imagination, so kudos to that.
As I mentioned, this is a flick about two people who are an unlikely couple. Scoot McNairy plays the photographer with the responsibility to bring Samantha home to her fiancee (Whitney Able). Both Scoot and Whitney anchor this film without a doubt, their performances are real, rich and nuanced, and very very important. You believe their characters and rarely think they're making overly stupid decisions or acting too irrationally.
The whole film is mostly them on the run, trying to find a good way to get home when the exorbitantly expensive ferry won't take them. Along the way, they form a close bond that shows hints of something more as things get worse. However these characters can't just fall in love, as Sam is going home to fiancee who she doesn't seem to love and Andrew has a small child back where he lives. Mistakes are made and these two really have to face some serious emotional trauma to put their potential relationship to the test, if it will survive at all.
This is a movie about survival, and there is some definite tension to be found here. When these two are escorted by immigrants and bounty hunters through the 'infected' zone and trouble brews, it's easily the most exciting part of the film and it's hard not to empathize when the film is shot so realistically. The best part about Monsters is that it takes itself seriously but also seems to ground itself in reality and seems somewhat plausible.
If I had a complaint, it would be that the pace seems a bit slow, especially if you're expecting more monster action. The film doesn't get boring, but there are times when you might find yourself waiting for something to happen.
Either way, Monsters is a different, somewhat daring and ultimately compelling film.
Video / Audio
Video is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and looks really, really good.
Audio comes in Dolby 5.1 and really booms, although the mix seems a bit rear-heavy.
There's Audio commentary with writer/director Gareth Edwards, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able that is quite insightful and funny from time to time, these guys really enjoyed making this film and there's a lot of good info presented here.
There are 4 deleted and extended scenes, if you're into that sort of thing (admittedly, I usually am not).
HDNet brings you a Look at Monsters, which is a really quick 5 minute fluff piece that absolutely makes this film look different than it is. It's basically an extended trailer with a bit of behind the scenes footage.
Monsters is a solid film that drags a bit, unless you're a horror fan who's looking for some serious action. Again, this is more of a relationship flick than a monster flick and I think the marketing, posters and trailers will mislead some people. I dug it- I thought the effects were good, acting was top notch and at the end, the movie definitely wasn't stupid. With that said, I don't know when or if I'll watch it again. Knowing what this film really is before you set out to watch it will really determine your enjoyment of it, I think.