FrightFest 2010: Monsters review

What’s that coming over the hill? A genre-twisting gem...

Time to blow our own trumpet: the Total Film-sponsored Monsters is one of the best of ‘Fest so far.

Just when you think the monster genre is on its last four or more legs, someone goes and reinvents it.

That someone is Gareth Edwards, a Brit whizzkid who, on this evidence, could be the next James Cameron. And not just because of his film’s bio-luminescent flora.

Monsters puts Hollywood budget-bloaters to shame, achieving scale and spectacle on a staggering $15,000. That’s right. Only three zeroes.

It’s also an intimate epic whose laptop-produced FX are used sparingly but with Spielbergian impact.

The movie’s blend of the earthy and the otherworldly have earned comparisons with District 9 that Edwards (in a post-screening Q & A) admitted are flattering.

Yet Monsters is very much its own beast, fresh, original and unpredictable.

Notice how we haven’t spilled much of the plot yet? That’s because it’s one of those movies where you’re best off going in as cold as possible.

Suffice to say that the eponymous beasties are ETs scattered six years ago by a crashed NASA probe over an area between Mexico and the US.

The area is now an Infected Zone, through whose hazardous terrain journo Scoot (Andrew Kaulder) and his boss’ daughter Whitney (Samantha Wynden) must cross to reach safety.

You’re on your own from hereon in to discover the film’s striking sights and surprises.

Edwards has a terrific eye for large-scale grandeur (the South American landscapes snatch the breath) but also rich, tiny details, tucked into the margins of the screen.

True, some of the early tautness does start to seep away in the second half, and the leads’ chemistry isn't as combustible as it could be.

Yet the characters essay a lot more depth and interest than those in Cloverfield, a film that shares Monsters' attention to authenticity, but not its haunting poetry.

To see director Gareth Edwards talk about FrightFest, Monsters' influences and why he hates modern SF cinema, click the video below...

Gareth Edwards Interview



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