M is for Monsters

“I don’t want to go home…”

As the title suggests, this movie is about monsters…sort of. Set in the near future, Andrew (Scoot McNairy) is a freelance photographer tasked with successfully transporting his boss’ daughter Samantha (Whitney Able) from a heavily invaded Mexico into the safe and sound confines of the United States of America.

Alien monsters have come to Earth and are being dicks as usual. That’s the basic premise of the story but what we get here is completely different. Written and directed by Gareth Edwards, who would famously go on to direct the Godzilla reboot and the first ever Star Wars stand-alone flick Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, manages to bring something uniquely adventurous but strangely intimate at the same time. It’s quite an original play on an age-old tale.

Andrew is travelling across Mexico, torn and divided in the aftermath of an alien invasion with huge areas now known as the Infected Zone, desperately trying to capture images to help boost his career as a photographer. His boss has other ideas and orders him to escort his daughter back home north across the US border. In a twisted irony, paradoxical to today’s issues, there has been a mammoth wall build up around the US to stop the alien invaders stepping over the border from Mexico and Andrew must find a way through this northernly zone. He and Samantha hitch a ferry through the jungle and in the process help find themselves through their shared peril.

Their relationship organically grows as the film progresses and hence the film becomes more of a tale of characters and exquisite locations rather than monsters, which many film fans may not like but I thoroughly enjoyed.

Edwards had barely any budget to work with so what he churns out as his final piece is a miraculously gorgeous piece of cinema. I seriously cannot say enough about the locations. They’re natural so don’t feel like designed sets. Everything just feels so real and palpable. The amazing use of light in various locations really helps to build up an atmosphere in the absence of a visible enemy. While we do get to see the monsters occasionally, it’s really all about the threat of danger and strive to survive that pushes this forward.

I found out later that McNairy and Able are the only two credited actors that appear in the movie. Everyone else who is onscreen is a local. This gives a real legitimate authenticity about the film. It also puts a crazy amount of pressure on the two leads and thankfully the chemistry they share is pretty good. There is some really slow parts throughout so if you’re expecting balls to the wall B-Movie monster mayhem then maybe stay away from this one.

7/10

Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter

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