Time for another review, and this time out it’s for a movie I’ve been anxiously awaiting for quite a while… The new Region 1 release of the independent horror adventure film, “Monsters”. It got a theatrical release here in the US, but it was a fairly limited one…. and certainly never made it anywhere near my lil’ neck of the woods, so this time out, your favorite Catgirl had to content herself with the always agonizing wait for it to make it’s inevitable appearance on DVD. But… finally it’s here at last.
The simple synopsis goes like this: “Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A space probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon reentry over Central America. Soon after, weird, dangerous new life forms began to appear and half of Mexico was quarantined as an “INFECTED ZONE”. Today, both the American and Mexican militaries still struggle just to contain the creatures… Our story begins when a U.S. journalist agrees to escort a shaken American tourist through the infected zone to the safety of the U.S. border.”
The Trailer makes it look great, and practically all the reviews I’ve read tell me it’s a winner, but as always…. Neko plans to let the movie speak for itself. I just know those of you regulars here at the ol’ Litterbox are as big a bunch of fans for this sort of “old school” alien invasion stuff like me, so you’ll all be wanting to see it as well. If you haven’t caught it yet… and it’s on your list too, it couldn’t hurt to find out what your Favorite Catgirl found when I gave it a watch. Kick back, relax and let Neko do all the hard work…. Hehehehe!!
So? Whatcha waitin’ for? It’s time to “Read On”!!
Our movie starts out promisingly enough…. we get some of that “night vision” news footage style combat stuff you see on CNN…. You know what we’re taking about. Shaky, badly focused, and generally crappy un-edited stuff where you can never tell exactly what the heck is happening. In it our brave army guys slug it out with what appears to be the granddaddy of all space squids…. errrr??… spiders??….. Wait a minute, maybe it’s both. Anyways, it’s freakin’ big. We’re talking Godzilla big, and it’s doing that whole “destroy the city” thing that gargantuan space critters all do whenever they show up here on planet Earth. Lots of shooting… wooshing jets and rockets… explosions and whatnot, and then everything goes to static. Crap…..
All excited and ready to see the combined armies of Mexico and the US go all crazy like the last Japanese kaiju film you saw? Think maybe with all the newer CG effects available now that it’s gonna be just… sooo… darn… freaking… COOL?? Well… darn it… it AIN’T!! Grrrrr!!!
Nope. Unfortunately most of this movie…. entitled “Monsters” for some unknown reason… has practically nothing to do with monsters at all. Yep, I can hear you all now: “OMG!! Say it ain’t so, Neko!!”. Sigh… Nope. This movie mostly revolves around the two main characters, Andrew Kaulder (played by Scoot McNairy), an American photojournalist on assignment in Mexico and Samantha Wynden (played by Whitney Able), the daughter of the rich guy who owns the magazine he works for. He wants to get that big scoop… you know… those pictures up close and personal of the alien menaces that will win him the international recognition he so badly dreams of. Instead, he gets saddled with Samantha and the task of getting her safely the heck out of Mexico before the seasonal migration of the cranky aliens gets underway. Basically…. “Monsters” is a “Road Movie”… deep on the whole character interaction thing and way weak on the actual monster movie stuff you probably wanted to see this for. Awww… damn.
Does this mean the movie stinks? No…. not really. It’s actually very well made, especially given it’s low budget and relatively small cast of unknowns. No… the only real problem here is the marketing of this film. In short…. we were all lied to. Your Favorite Catgirl… like most of you… had been lead to believe we’d get “War of the Worlds” with a bit of romance thrown in, and instead we get far… far… faaaar too much angsty and slow moving character stuff and a lame “Boy meets girl, girl has fiancé, girl is attracted to boy but shouldn’t fall for him, boy wants girl but has too much old relationship baggage” storyline. Our monsters…. as gigantic as they are, spend the majority of the film off-screen. Oh, you do hear them alright…. sounding like elephants with a synthesizer up their butt…. but you hardly ever get to see them. The army? Well they drive around… and you see jets fly over now and again…. and in the distance somebody certainly sounds like they are bombing the crap out of something, but there’s no real alien fighting goodness in this one at all. There is one monster attack… about three quarters of the way through this one, but it’s filmed from the perspective of somebody hiding inside a dark car… at night… in the jungle… and you can’t actually see anything. AUUUGGHHH!!
What nefarious things do these aliens do anyway to merit the army’s attention? Do they eat people… maybe suck out vital organs, cranial fluid, or somethin’ disgusting like that? Nope…. although apparently we do get killed when they stampede over the top of whole cities while on their migrations. Do they need our women to breed? That always gets us cranky. Nope…. apparently “Mars Wants Trees”. Huh?!? Yep… they seem to want to live in rivers… swarm ashore at night to lay their “glow-in-the-dark nightlight” eggs on trees and basically stomp us by accident.
By now… you probably are getting a sense that Neko didn’t like this one. And you’d be right. Glowing reviews and critical acclaim aside… I can tell you that if you are a simple genre movie fan looking for some alien monster fun…. well…. this one just isn’t gonna deliver it. Maybe I’m unsophisticated…. maybe my tastes in film run towards the trashy and exploitative… I don’t know, but I do know I didn’t like “Monsters”…. Not at all. Not the clever dialog, the pretty cinamatography, the subtle social commentary, not even the poignant “love story”…. Darn it… I just wanted to see rampaging alien monsters fight army guys!!
Given this, Neko can only give “Monsters” a paltry 2 “Meows” out of 5. Never have I been so dissapointed by any film I so badly wanted to see. This one could just as easily have been set in, say, Iraq… and replaced the “monsters” with “insurgents” and it would have been a better film…. or at least it would have been a more honest one. The DVD is fine…. and comes with quite a few extras, but if you still want to see it, I can really only recommend it as a rental….. and it better be a cheap one.
Have we got a Trailer for you? naturally… silly!!