Friday 3 December 2010

Monsters (2010) - Gareth Edwards

District 9 + Cloverfield + Jurassic Park = Monsters.

Though the title is shockingly awful, this film thrives on atmosphere.  After an alien outbreak in Mexico, two Americans must traverse the 'infected zone' and escape to America.  It's essentially a road trip movie with a very thin plot.  Much of the film time is utilised to establish ambience, with moody imagery of the post-apocalyptic environment - empty vehicles, deserted buildings, dead bodies and beautiful shots of the Mexican landscape.  This is accompanied by a fantastic ambient soundtrack which matches the moody tone.  Monsters is filmed almost entirely with a hand camera to give the film a realistic feel.  The overall situation seems credible.

However, Edwards is relentless with the imagery so that you eventually become immune to it.  Further, though the evidence of the alien threat is laid before you, actually witnessing any action is extremely rare.  As a result, the journey never feels truly dangerous and the narrative lacks intensity.  Instead, the focus is on our two protagonists who, by the end of the film, we still know very little about.  It cycles rapidly through the various environments, but wallows in their inane thoughts - I just lost the will to care about them.  The characterisation (or lack of) isn't helped by the laughably appalling script, though this was apparently mostly improvised.  The end, therefore, is cringeworthy and lacks the emotional weight necessary to fulfill Edwards' ambition.

Ultimately, despite the moody ambience, the film just isn't all that interesting and, as such, is hard to recommend.