September 28, 2010

Review: Monsters (2010)

"Excellent movie, misleading title..."
"Alien life forms have spread throughout the southern U.S-Mexico border region leading to the quarantine of half of Mexico. The U.S. and Mexican military are battling to contain the creatures, with a wall stretching along the American border. The story follows Andrew, an American photojournalist helping his wealthy employer's daughter, Samantha, get back to America. Their journey takes them across Central America and eventually into the 'infected zone."  

Monsters is a great little movie. If you liked Cloverfield or District 9, Monsters has just about the exact same feel to it, which is a good thing in my book, and why I think it has such a compelling appeal. It feels real. It's a glimpse of our world, our normal world, which has been inundated with abnormal forces which pose a threat to our humanity, whether realistically or perceived.

This is pervieved reality.
The problem, and basically the only one, with this movie is in the title; Monsters isn't really about monsters at all. There are monsters in it of course, a few anyway, but the movie is more about how we as people live in a monster inhabited world, rather than a group of people fighting for their lives against said threat. There is little external conflict involving monsters, and a ton of internal conflict both between the main characters, and within themselves.

This movie is a metaphor for something, I think.
What we do get of the monsters is pretty awesome, and I do think that the minimalistic approach to our exposure to them makes the movie work better as a film, if not a monster/horror flick, but some people are going to feel cheated, expecting a movie packed with action that just isn't there. Please understand, I think this is an excellent little movie. I loved the hell out of it, and really it didn't step wrong the whole time for me. I can however see how many people may be pissy after seeing this movie, expecting a glut of monsters and getting more of a relationship/characters in internal conflict study instead. This movie isn't for those people though. They should go see Saw 43, and enjoy the hollow, yet visually jam-packed spectacle of it all.

Hats off to Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy (Yes, his name is Scoot, not Scott) neither of whom I really knew much about before this movie, but did a killer job in the main roles. I empathized with them and cared about what they were going through, and managed to become invested in them and their burgeoning relationship. Whitney is really easy to look at too, and makes me want to go back and check out Mandy Lane again, just to see her have that near lesbian experience with Amber Heard... Yes, everything comes back to hot chicks for me. Stop judging! And really quick here, why Scoot? It's hard enough knowing that there's a guy in Hollywood that calls himself McG, and now we have a Scoot? Cool guy, good actor, but come on with that name!

Don't cover that pretty face, Whitney.
This movie is for film geeks, Indie lovers. People who need more substance and less flash from their flicks. I personally think this movie is for everyone, or at least should be; it has a great premise and setting, characters we come to really give a shit about, some pretty awesome (sparse as they may be) monster encounters, and an ending that made me think, then go back and look to make sure that I wasn't getting it wrong.

It made me tense at times, and was scary in that it felt so damn real, and the monsters were so large and imposing. It sucked me in. Monsters is a subdued Cloverfield, a District 9 light if you will. And while it may be light on the action and monster-filled carnage, it's not light on much else. If you don't mind more story than action, you won't have a problem. If deliberate pacing and a slow build up with less of a visual payoff makes you mad, you will.

"But what does it all mean?"
See it now on Comcast On Demand (a month before it hits theaters), or catch it on October 29th on a big screen near you, in limited release. Either way, see it. It's a different approach to monster movies that is definitely worth a look.


Monsters is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD.

Watching Whitney Able on screen for 90 minutes was not a bad thing at all.


  1. Thanks for the head's-up: I've been jonesing to see this flick since the first trailer was released--and what you've described does sound great--but I'd be also one of those slobs who'd gripe afterwards about there not being "enough monsters." But now I know, and so, won't gripe.

    Keep up the good work,

  2. Just watched this. Fucking great and he's Welsh too. Done all the SFX in his bedroom and it cost dirt cheap to make.

    Nice (local) interview by here

    Much more enjoyable than Cloverfield.

  3. Thanks for this review, man! I almost missed the movie. Now that I have seen it, it was great! A little slow paced at the end, but still very nice. I would not compare it with Cloverfield, though, but rather with The Mist. I've read the review before I watched the movie and I told someone of what you said and the response was "Oh, you mean jerky cameras and pointless running around".

  4. I agree Siderite, it is more comparable with The Mist than Cloverfield, but it had the Cloverfield feel to me as well, without the jerky camera work and all.