I just watched Monsters at home and wanted to get some quick thoughts up since A) it costs $9.99 on-demand and B) it comes out soon in theaters.
First, the plot: 6 years before the events of the movie, a probe was sent into space to check out possible alien life in our solar system. On its way back to earth with samples it crashes in Mexico. Not long after, some large “monsters” (aliens) started appearing. The infected region (the top half of Mexico) is sealed under quarantine. Fences on the Mexican side, a giant wall on the US side. The US and Mexican military attack any monsters that try to breech the perimeter. Our movie is about a magazine photographer dispatched to take pictures of the human toll who is tasked with getting his rich boss’s daughter back to the US. They miss the last ferry and are forced to illegally go through the infected region.
The District 9 comparisons are inevitable: the use of real-world locations, the small budget ($15k here), aliens on earth, unknown actors doing a really good job, etc. That being said, it’s not nearly as effects heavy as District 9, and not nearly as imaginative or exciting. Monsters spends too much time getting Anthony and Sam (the main couple) to the infected zone. And not a lot happens. Ever. The aliens aren’t very well designed. Basically a giant octopus walking around on 4 bug-legs, only 100 feet high. They show you one in the first scene, so any suspense there is kind of ruined.
What’s good? The acting. The main couple is pretty believable—they do well with what they have. The chemistry and budding relationship between the leads. The effects aren’t bad (handled by the director). The movie is well shot. The premise is good. It looks like a movie that cost 100 times more.
In short, Monsters can’t decide if it wants to be an intimate, dramatic, travelogue or a full-on, sci fi/action movie and it suffers by landing somewhere in the middle instead of being a nice blend. Definitely catch this on cable or video. I don’t think it’s worth the trip to the theater, but I think do think it’s worth checking out. It’s a great effort and I’ll be looking to see what both the director and cast get up to in the future.