Cannes Review: Gareth Edwards' Phenomenal Sci-Fi 'Monsters'
by Alex Billington
May 13, 2010
First things first, this isn't an official Cannes film, it is not part of any official line-up, it was a film showing in the Cannes Market. That said, I'm extremely glad I chose to seek out and see Gareth Edwards' Monsters, an incredibly low budget sci-fi film that is truly one of the best indie sci-fi films I've seen recently, and I am doing my best not to overexaggerate on this film. But I truly did love Monsters, through and through, and I would honestly call it a nearly flawless film, from script to acting to directing to score to cinematography. It is that phenomenal and I suggest everyone do their best to seek out this sci-fi film out as soon as they can.
Monsters starts out with an intro stating that we sent a space probe to search for life in our galaxy, but when it returned it burnt up in the atmosphere over Mexico. Soon, life forms began to appear, and most of Mexico was quarantined as an infected zone (see photo above). The film starts out with an intense military attack on one of these aliens, which look like a gigantic 50 foot tall octopus with tentacles and legs. We're introduced to Andrew (Scoot McNairy), who is a photographer for a newspaper and is in Mexico covering this (its been a few years since the aliens first appeared). He's instructed by his boss, the owner of the paper, to find his daughter Samantha (Whitney Able), who was caught in an attack and needs to be escorted back to the US.
Although this film draws comparisons to District 9, it's definitely not an action film, it's a very human story about these two people and the relationship they develop. Andrew attempts to take a train to the ocean and put Sam on a ferry, but it doesn't go according to plan, so he must travel with Sam through the infected zone to make it back to the US. There isn't a lot time spent with the aliens themselves, probably because Edwards was trying to keep this a low budget as possible, but the story is very much about what it's like to go through all of this. That said, the screenplay was impeccable, a perfectly realistic interpretation of a wonderful story.
The science fiction genre is one of my favorite genres, which means new sci-fi films must really impress me to stand out. And this is one of those films that truly stands out. The performances, especially from the two leads, were fantastic. Whitney Able is unbelievably beautiful and does an amazing job of adding some depth to her character, and McNairy is just as impressive. The effects were seamless and looked great, which is even more amazing considering I learned later that Edwards did them all on his computer by himself. There really is so much to admire and appreciate and love about this and it's as close to near perfection as we'll get with low budget sci-fi films nowadays. Even the score was a wonderful addition to an already fantastic story.
Monsters is a film that you can just sit back and enjoy, and it's not a sci-fi horror with jump scares, but it's about the struggles and the story of these two people. I will unquestionably be supporting this film as much as I possibly can and I hope it makes its way to theaters, because it truly deserves to be seen by audiences. If you love sci-fi at all, Monsters is definitely a must see film. I'm not the only one who loved it, either, as Alan Jones on Twitter saw it today, too, and said the following (which I completely agree with): "Best film so far is Gareth Edwards' amazing Monsters, brilliantly directed, wonderfully scripted, superbly acted, so moving."
Great article man. Hope this picks up a distributor...
Jasdeep Grewal on May 13, 2010
MonsterKilledThePilot on May 13, 2010
I am sure most of your readers remember your love for Moon last year, how does this compare to that?
the weatherman on May 13, 2010
Saw this at one of the midnight screenings at South by Southwest this year. The director did a Q&A after the show and talked about how guerrilla the film-making was. The cast and crew basically camped out in a bus for weeks in the jungle. Also, the effects were all done on his computer.
Travis on May 13, 2010
Sounds great! I too love the Sci-Fi genre and am always elated when I find a new amazing Sci-Fi flick as they are few and far between. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for this now....Thanks Alex!
Cmurder on May 13, 2010
Now I want to see this.
germs on May 13, 2010
it won't come to any theaters near me and I'll have to wait over a year and a half to see it probably.
jake the snake on May 13, 2010
Any kind of trailer or teaser?
MMMMmmmm ZOmbies on May 13, 2010
Will keep ma peeps open for this.
Crapola on May 13, 2010
There is a short clip of the movie here... http://shocktillyoudrop.com/news/topnews.php?id=14405
Chad on May 13, 2010
^Short clip is great. Gives you just enough to get interested. Keep us posted Alex
Dan W on May 13, 2010
Good; this beats the hell of Predators already.
Hattori Hanzo on May 14, 2010
Wow this looks to be a gem of a movie.
JimD on May 14, 2010
wow that clip totally sold me and it didn't show a damn thing. I LOVE IT!
MMMMmmmm ZOmbies on May 14, 2010
Thanks for keeping us in the loop about this one. It was your sterling work that drew Moon to my attention and I really enjoyed that. I'll do my best to keep my eyes peeled for this film.
Payne by name on May 14, 2010
Gareth Edwards the director had been well documented already with his one man band vfx work: http://www.fxguide.com/article463.html This was bloody quick moving!!
DOm on May 14, 2010
There is an interview with Gareth in the latest issue of Film & Festivals magazine. Digital version can be read for free at http://bit.ly/aDuzYy
Chris on May 14, 2010
yeah of course... there always has to be something wrong with other countrys except for the U.S. and they gotta be the heroes!
Said on May 14, 2010
@16 that is amazing he pulls off effects like that on a home computer in his bedroom. I heard he did the same for Monster's and yet the effects are awesome.
JimD on May 15, 2010
could someone please help! there is a mexican film about a girl living on her own...its about silence and inactivity and the human condition.
julie on May 26, 2010
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