Monsters was a low-budget film with big ambitions, that, I think, worked extremely well. It is War of the Worlds for Gen-Y.
The film was largely criticised as having shallow, obnoxious characters that weren’t likeable. But, for me, this is what made it work so well. The characters are true-to-life and not intended to be plastic Hollywood replicants or idealistic stereotypes.
The main lead comes across, at times, as an obnoxious asshole, while the leading lady is pretty but a little dazed by everything, but by the end of the film, they’ve been transformed by their experiences, so it’s faithful to its Gen-Y leanings. And this gives the movie the realistic, documentary-style feel it was looking for, with the dialogue and acting being largely impromptu and natural.
Six years later, the quarantine zone has spread to cover the lower states within the US, and our normal-joes find themselves trapped on the wrong side of the border with the mating season about to begin.
The movie is made all the more remarkable when you realise it was shot for less than $500,000, with only two dedicated actors. Everyone else you see is a ring-in, normal people asked if they’d “run screaming in that direction,” for the next five minutes, etc. The “camera dolly” for the motion shots was a folded up jacket rested on the open window of a van driving slowly down the street.
There was also some criticism that a lot of the footage was filmed without the expressed permission of those in the area, but you have to remember “the film crew” was a bunch of mates in the back of a van, not a movie team sealing off an area for days on end.
The CGI was the result of the director sitting in his bedroom for six months, editing video footage using Adobe software, so I didn’t expect too much but was pleasantly surprised at the stunning results. There’s not a lot of special effects, but that makes the film more gritty and gives it far more substance that films that throw millions at their CGI teams.
I really liked this movie and am looking forward to getting my hands on the DVD release to look a little further behind the scenes. I think it’s an exceptional piece of work by a bunch of amateurs and shows up several big-budget Hollywood blockbusters.
If you haven’t seen Monsters, you should.