Among the film releases hitting cinema screens today is Monsters, British director Gareth Edwards' low-budget sci-fi debut, which is gaining a reputation as a giant-killer in more ways than one.
Made for a reported $15,000, Monsters is set in a contemporary Mexico under siege from huge floating alien beings, squid-like forms that crackle with internal electricity, and humans are doing their best to get out of their way. Travelling through the quarantined country to the relative safety of the US (political allegories ahoy) are a newspaper photographer, played by Scoot McNairy (star of the charming mumblecore flick In Search Of A Midnight Kiss), and his boss's daughter, played by the fine-boned Whitney Able (who married McNairy earlier this year).
Their journey, and who-saw-that-coming romance, is the focus of the film, but unlike other inexpensive sensations (The Blair Witch Project, for example), and despite not using any green screen during filming, Edwards doesn't make your imagination do all the work. His aliens, not to mention his tanks and his military helicopters, are intermittently visible and — if you can stop yourself trying to unpick the technology — look pretty darned real.
The script and acting are also entirely committed and convincing; the film's only shortcoming is that the alien beings, though terrifying to look at, don't seem to reveal any coherent threat or malice towards (or even interest in) the human race. Once that becomes clear, you do start to wonder why everyone's knickers are quite so twisted.
Still in a movie climate where character nuance increasingly loses out to visual fireworks (though fans of the latter will be thrilled to know that James Cameron already has plans for Avatar 2 and 3), it's nice to see that little films with big ambitions can still make a monster impact. Watch the video below for an interview with the director about the making of his movie. Monsters is out today