I just finished watching Monsters and it seriously impressed me. You should know by now that I believe that breaking down the artificial walls between genres is one of the great strengths of independent media and this film does it to a greater extent than anything else I can think of.
Horror, science fiction, romance, adventure, political commentary… yeah, it’s in there. Honestly, it is difficult for me to even describe what exactly Monsters is, except very, very moving.
The story is simple. I high-concepted it as The Year Of Living Dangerously meets Cloverfield. Six years before the film begins a US spacecraft carrying samples of alien life crash lands in Mexico. Life from the wreck survives and contaminates the area, causing the US to quarantine a large swath of Mexico. Things live there that are not native to Earth and not friendly to humans.
A photographer is at the edge of the infected zone. The daughter of the owner of the magazine that the photographer works for is vacationing in the area and is injured when one of the creatures breaks out of the zone and the US military responds with an airstrike. The magazine mogul gives the photographer orders to get his daughter out of there, by whatever means necessary.
That’s the setup. A man and a woman, thrown together by fate, in a dangerous situation. The story plays out from there, sometimes predictable, sometimes very original.
Be advised, this is a very slow film by Hollywood standards. There are a lot of long shots in which the focus is mood rather than action. It is very much a cinematographer’s film. It is also a guerrilla photographer’s film, shot on location, on the fly, with extras picked up on the scene. The total budget wouldn’t cover the salary of Gwyneth Paltrow’s nail tech for Iron Man 3.
It’s real. It’s everything that I love about independent media, people telling the story that comes bubbling up from inside them, screw marketing, screw focus groups, to hell with what the distributor’s accountants think and just make a goddamned movie!
It’s available on Netflix, so I strongly urge you to sit down, relax, give yourself time to adjust to the pace of the film, and get lost in the story. Seriously, if you don’t cry at the end, you don’t have a soul.