Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life form began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain "the creatures"...... Our story begins when a US journalist agrees to escort a shaken tourist through the infected zone in Mexico to the safety of the US border.
See it now at home, with Amazon On Demand: Monsters (Pre-Theatrical Rental)
There is an expected story arc when it comes to monster movies; original thought never appears to be present anymore. Then a film comes along that changes the entire idea of a monster movie. It breaks the conventions and offers something greater than one might expect, especially if the title of said film is Monsters.
To make one thing clear, and to be very clear on how this film differs from other said monster-alien invasion movies, is the monsters are living on Earth. They are here, everyone knows about them, and measures have been taken to keep them quarantined from the human population. Within the first few minutes of the film you see what the monster looks like on a news program as it attacks. So, the entire creepy crawly creature in the night or body-feeding alien life form ideas should be put to rest. You should be afraid as these are incredibly large tentacled creatures with great strength; but the fear is not in the unknown, it is the known. This is a more intelligent monster movie. Like migratory birds the monsters in Monsters move with the seasons. The world has adapted to them and the United States' solution has been to erect an enormous wall that covers the entire border leading into Mexico. It is heavily armed and at all times there are military personnel surveying the area, ready to attack a monster on sight. When the migration begins anyone who is in the area infested with the monsters must leave by a determined date or be stuck there for the season. In other words, you are risking your life and just may not survive.
This is where the film's story begins. Samantha (Whitney Able), the daughter of the owner of a United States newspaper, needs to get home safely before the border closes. Andrew (Scott McNairy) is a photographer who has been desperately trying to get a picture of a living monster for the newspaper he works for - it just happens to be Sam's fathers. He is hired to safely get Sam home so she can return to her life, and her fiance. It all appears to be simple enough but with the season beginning in mere days the easy passage Sam's father expected to occur is anything but for Andrew and Sam. The film takes us with them on their harrowing journey through the quarantined zone. A place where the locals have come to accept their reality of possible death at any moment, and the term "safe" never qualifies. Sam and Andrew are two strangers with their own personal issues, complications, and demons. The heart of this monster story is in the friendship they build and the ways in which each one is changed forever from what they see, hear, and witness on this journey.
There is no destroying the monsters in this film. No big shoot out or bomb explosion that will send them all back up into the sky where they once came. Monsters is a monster movie; as the feeling, and sight, of impending encounters with a more powerful and foreign being is ever present. But it is also about adapting to a new environment. The Mexico they travel through has been beaten and broken by war. The cinematography captures the beauty of the country while juxtaposing it against carnage. The aliens appear evil through the media broadcasts but this perception is doubted as their habitat is explained further. The larger world sees them as the enemy, and building a cohesive society an impossibility. The local people treat them with the respect of an animal race, even if they fear them for what they have, can, and will do. As for Sam and Andrew, their lives will forever be changed by what they encounter and learn about themselves over the course of a few days together. Priorities change, and the harsh reality of what is becoming of their "safe" world is brought to the surface, leaving their future uncertain even as the credits begin to roll.
Like any good monster/alien/sci-fi/horror film there is always, and has to be, an allegorical message. Monsters is ripe for the undertaking of analysis. The clear commentary on border politics and the idea that we can contain the unwanted, the "other", from our society lies within Gareth Edwards script. For anyone who lives in California, for example, the usage of Baja Mexico as the quarantine area will come as no surprise. In reality it is an area of quarantine and fighting off the monster every day - oh, I mean illegal aliens. By making the decision to place the entire story within this quarantined zone Edwards develops something rooted much deeper in the simple fear of being attacked by a monster. Better still, is how the main characters are both United States citizens who just want to go home to their safe, idyllic, suburban lives. They are thrown into a world of danger, full of fear, just as those who attempt to cross an uninviting border are each and every day. The journey they take plays just like they are unwanted, illegal aliens, attempting passage. There is the bribing of officials, dependence on strangers to accompany them through the jungle terrain, and of course the constant danger that at any moment a monster may take their life (think: border patrol agent?). Even with all of these hidden messages the film can stand on its own as well as simply a road movie, on foot, through a dangerous terrain. For those who seek out analysis from horror/science fiction movies Edwards has obliged you; for those who just want to see a great film about two people vs. the monsters who lurk in the night, he gives you that also. It appears that is what makes Monsters such a terrific script (and one that was highly improvised I must remark) because it knows its audiences very well. Writer and Director Gareth Edwards shows that he has a gift in creating films that suit one audience as well as another without cheating either one. His creativity is also commendable in taking the obvious storyline to an entirely different level.
The B movie stigma of monster movies has been obliterated with this film.
Thriller, Science Fiction, Drama
October 29, 2010