Monsters, is a pleasant surprise from the LA Film Festival this year and reminder that quality doesn’t always come with money. The film is reminiscent of many monster/horror films gone by, but brought together in an organic way that makes it an entirely new beast. The film truly abides by the indie spirit — it cost what most studio films would spend on Starbucks in a day and as the Director Gareth Edwards told us after the screening its entire cast and crew could fit into one mini-van, they had one Sony EX3 camera, no lighting, no “script” and no idea as to where they were going to be shooting until they got there nor what they would be adding later with special effects.

The stars must have been in align for Edwards because despite all the things working against him, he’s either used magic or genius to create a great monster movie. Despite his small budget (which still hasn’t been announced but I heard whispers about it being under $0k), his extreme guerrilla-style filmmaking, and lack of planning the film stood on its own with solid camera work, interesting characters, suspense, special effects that probably top a number of big summer blockbusters (which tells you they knew how to use what they had) and to top it a fun story.

The Players:

  • Directed By: Gareth Edwards
  • Producers: Allan Niblo, James Richardson
  • Screenwriter: Gareth Edwards
  • Cinematographer: Gareth Edwards
  • Editor: Colin Goudie
  • Cast: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able

Film Info:

Made in Mexico. Product of the United Kingdom in 2009. 97 minutes. HDCAM 23.98

Synopsis/About the Film:

Six years ago, a NASA probe carrying alien spores crashed somewhere in Central America. Today, a huge swath of land between Mexico and the U.S. has become a creature-infested no-man’s land. In Gareth Edwards’ stunning directorial debut, a photojournalist in southern Mexico is charged with getting his boss’ daughter to the safety of the U.S. The only problem is the two of them are on the wrong side of the “Infected Zone,” and the only way home is a journey, fraught with danger, through the heart of the contaminated region.

Monsters is not the movie you think it is. Yes, there are monsters in it—large luminous squidlike creatures, beautifully crafted by Edwards himself—and yes, they do, at times, destroy things, but there are other wonders to discover as well. The largely improvised performances feel grounded and real—a rarity in any movie—while the storytelling is a small miracle. With intelligence and integrity, Edwards puts audacious spins on familiar boy-meets-girl-meets-alien tropes, revealing that a great film is, simply, a great film, no matter what the genre.

I don’t believe this movie has been bought yet, but chances are it will be soon! Keep an eye out for it when it hits theaters!