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Monsters

by

Jeff Nelson

Monsters aims at bringing something new to the genre.

Monsters
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Hollywood has put out alien films such as Cloverfield and District 9 that were big hits among moviegoers. It's inevitable that an independent filmmaker would bring their point of view to it. Monsters is a little fish in a big pond with rather big shoes to fill. With films such as District 9 receiving positive feedback, standards have been set for the genre. However, Monsters attempts to bring something new to the table.

Six years after aliens invaded Earth, a security force maintains control in the Infected Zone around the U.S.-Mexican border. Andrew, a photographer, is documenting the war when he's interrupted by an unexpected rescue mission. Samantha, daughter of a media mogul who just happens to be Andrew's boss, needs an escort home, and Andrew reluctantly takes the job. Due to the title of the film, audiences expect to see aliens in most frames of the movie. This isn't the case here. Instead of focusing on the creatures and explosions, Monsters tells the story between Samantha and Andrew. In fact, there are only a few scenes that the aliens are even shown. The time is taken to give depth to the main characters and there isn't any rush in doing so. There are a few scenes that feel dragged out and could have easily been cut down a bit. There isn't a big shocker at the end here, it's rather predictable. This is a dialogue driven film that feels a tad slow at times, but still managed to keep my attention.

Andrew and Samantha are performed by Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. While there are characters who make appearances here and there, Andrew and Samantha are the only characters who have constant screen time. Both McNairy and Able bring their characters to life well. While their performances aren't outstanding, they certainly get the job done. Dialogue is delivered well and are believable in their roles. Overacting could have absolutely destroyed this film, but both actors maintain quite mellow. They feel natural from the beginning to the end.

As mentioned before, Monsters was made on a tiny budget. Regardless of the budget, the film still looks great. There is still an indie movie mood to it, but the sets look better than one would believe with keeping the budget in mind. The CGI is hit and miss throughout. I didn't expect to see phenomenal work in this department, although there are scenes where CGI is used very tastefully. Throughout the entire film, only one scene uses a mass amount of CGI. For most of the running time, the monsters are shown in the mist, far away, or just one part of its body. The visuals could have been an absolute disaster given the budget, but the filmmakers used very effective techniques.

Throughout Monsters, there are positive and negative things to say. On one side I enjoyed the film as it's rather interesting, but it moved a bit slow at times. There are some long scenes that needed to be cut. This definitely is the type of film that will split audiences. Those who enjoy independent movies that are a bit strange will enjoy this. Those who prefer mainstream flicks may drift in and out due to the slower pacing. I appreciate that Monsters aims at bringing something new to the genre. There are some interesting concepts here. The execution of some are a bit questionable. I support independent filmmaking, so I say check it out if you enjoy indie films.

My Rating = Three Stars

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