For the most part, aliens on earth films have been an uninspired cluster of films that involve uber-muscular men fighting hordes of the obviously malevolent extra terrestrials in metropolitan wastelands. A few standout films have surpassed the clichéd mold of alien films patterned after District 9, which focused on character and societal impact in a nonstandard location. While Monsters did not receive the praise and fame of District 9, it still did a good job at exceeding the genre’s confines.
The aliens are residents now
Six years ago aliens arrived on earth after NASA’s probe successfully contacted extraterrestrial life forms. Since then they have been contained in a large gap, known as the infected zone, between the United States of America and Mexico. Andrew Caulder is a journalist for the New World Chronicle and has been given the task of taking his employer’s daughter back to the States.
The storytelling in Monsters is sparse when it comes to the plot. There are very few characters that have more than a few lines in the film or even appear on camera. There are no cheap shock tricks and few action packed moments. This led to the film being poorly received by the public, as it is far from the usual genre fare.
Despite the film’s almost minimalist approach to the storytelling, it was an enjoyable story to watch. It has an air of cynicism that is usually absent from anything but horror and art house films when the romanticism of happy endings and perfect couplings are far more desired.
Suitably devoid of chemistry
The romance in the film is almost devoid of chemistry, but I think that it was deliberate, suggesting that this isn’t romance at all but desperation and loneliness. The two-featured characters are well layered for a film that only spanned a few days of mostly travel.
The aliens shape the plot indirectly
The speculative fiction elements are well placed in the film—they are there and their effects are noticeable, but the director doesn’t waste the audience’s time by shoving the facts right in their faces. Instead he reveals a little here and a little there as the movie goes along with the aliens shaping the world instead of the plot directly.
The effects are mostly focused on the devastation of what the aliens have done and the war that happened in the infected zone. They do appear further into the film, beyond the first scene’s shaky hand-filmed footage of the aliens at night. The effects on the aliens themselves are well done if not lavish. The shots and lighting of the film set the mood perfectly as the story progresses.
Monsters is a good film for what it is, if not accessible in the same way that most alien films are. It delivers a minimal story that focuses on setting and character instead of action and plot twists and does what it sets out to do well.