Alternative Viewing presents Monsters

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By Reuben Ross on 21.4.2023

Alternative Viewing presents Monsters

If you’re on a tight budget this Easter, chances are you could probably use a few tips from the makers of Monsters (2010). After the poor reviews of new fantasy, sci fi film Sucker Punch (2011) you may need a cheap alternative in this year of megabucks sequels. From Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 (2011) to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011), Monsters is a brilliant contrast as a more grown-up, independent film.

With a shoestring budget of under a million dollars, this rather unique sci-fi film was shot entirely on-location by a small crew, using unpaid extras and off-the-shelf cameras. Monsters is an unusual and incredibly memorable movie and has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray – just in time to enjoy this holiday, with a few Easter eggs, of course.

Six years after an alien invasion has left northern Mexico infested with giant, squid-like alien life forms, the film follows a cynical and slightly sleazy photojournalist as he accompanies his boss’s attractive daughter on her way home from Mexico. After missing the last direct boat to America, they are forced to make their way by land through the treacherous alien infested zone, now an abandoned, overgrown wasteland, to the US border.

Many will be expecting an action-packed monster film, similar to recent blockbusters like Cloverfield (2008), District 9 (2009) or Skyline (2009). But, with its relatively simple, modest storyline, minimal action sequences and sparse use of suspense, Monsters is very different.

In fact, we barely even get a glimpse of the monsters themselves. Because of this, despite its title, the focus of the film seems to be not the monsters, but rather, the human characters and their developing relationship on their gruelling journey home. Having said that, Monster’s two protagonists are actually rather shallow and unconvincing. This is possibly owing to bad acting or a slightly unrefined script.

Yet, despite this flaw, the film somehow continues to intrigue – we have embarked on a journey with the characters and want to know how it ends. Will they make it? What unexpected turns will their journey take? And, how will the characters’ relationship pan-out? Along this journey, the film’s striking social realism, gritty atmosphere and subtle political commentary on the US-Mexico border situation adds an enticing touch of curiosity to the story.

Finally, the film’s powerful atmosphere, unusual cinematography and surprisingly good special effects (particularly considering its limited budget) make it an impressive visual accomplishment. Murky jungle scenes, exotic landscapes and brief CGI shots of alien tentacles seamlessly integrate with the scenery to create an enthralling cinematic environment – all without the use of 3D! Most notably, one eerily beautiful, even poetic, scene features two giant squids dancing across a desert landscape, as the two vulnerable protagonists watch in wonder.

Monsters is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi blockbuster, an intimate character drama, an electrifying road movie and an independent, art-house film, all jumbled up in one. And, because of this multifaceted nature – perhaps, also, due to its confused identity – Monsters seems to be a love-it or hate-it film.

Some critics have complained of its lack of action or “dull” storyline, while others have praised it for its technical accomplishments or unique style. Overall, if you’re a fan of thoughtful, atmospheric sci-fi flicks but dislike huge, Hollywood, action film monstrosities, Monsters is definitely worth a watch. And, starting at only 8.99 on DVD or even Blu-Ray, it’s a great budget film for this Easter holiday!


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