(2010) director Gareth Edwards
Though it got pretty good reviews, this low-budget sci-fi/horror adventure film, Monsters, kinda sucks. It’s kind of a District 9 (2009) knock-off of sorts. Made on the cheap, it’s about an alien invasion, a few years after the fact, in which the aliens are contained in a second or third-world country, where the story is ostensibly much more about the humans and the effects are good but not the point. This time, though, the film is set in Mexico.
Well, the District 9 comparison is loose. In this film, the story is about two Americans who are trying to get back to the US before a big lock-down in Mexico. There is the cute daughter of a media mogul and the schmo-ish photographer who works for her father’s corporation who is employed to see her safely home. The “monsters” are contained in a cordoned off section of northern Mexico and the southern base of the United States. At first there is a plane or boat, but then it’s down to a foot-trek across the jungles to get home.
Frankly, I am always more than willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the low budget. The film’s low budget doesn’t show itself so much in the effects. But the film, which stakes its claim on quality through story and character is completely without interesting character and compelling story. I feel kind of bad dissing on this film, but quite frankly…it sucked.
There are absurd aspects of the story that you can’t help but wonder about. And the film has none of the magical, surprising, or unusual qualities that one might appreciate in a film that comes from the outside of the mainstream.
While Whitney Able, the short-haired blond daughter of the mogul, is cute, Scoot McNairy (really? Scoot McNairy?) is like Casey Affleck’s more (or less) annoying stunt double. But it’s not just that the actors aren’t anything special, nor their characters, but that the film just totally lacks anything of real genuine value.
While District 9 played with the aspects of Apartheid in its native South Africa (and actually had a decent story and charming lead), this film, set in Mexico, with a huge wall barring the giant octopi-like land aliens from coming into the US, the film’s subtext seems utterly bankrupt. It’s not random where they chose to place this story, nor the infected zone’s location, nor the major protective wall all around the southern rim of the US. But what is this film trying to do? Fuck if I know.
I’m more surprised because this film got good reviews. I almost saw it in the theater. But it’s bad. It’s really lame. Maybe not in the same ways that many bad horror/science fiction films usually are, but still, I’d consider it as much as a waste of time as any of the poorer, less appealing films of that genre. It’s just lame.