Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Admiration: The Low-Budget Menace of Gareth Edwards' Monsters

First off, is that poster not completely amazing? What a striking image. The film delivers on that image and the queer fear it strikes with the tentacled reflection in the eye of the mask. Gareth Edwards' Monsters is much like this poster in the sense that the titular monsters are for most of the film obscured. Our main characters--real-life couple Whitney Able (Samantha) and Scoot McNairy (Andrew)--are aware of their presence and see them, but since our camera tails them and not the monsters the audience is frequently left out of getting a glimpse of these malignant aliens.

This is what low-budget horror/sci-fi should be about, and what the good ones capitalize on. These kinds of films focus on what is not seen as opposed to what could be seen. When you have a budget of $800,000 it's hard to make CGI aliens that look half as good as what Spielberg did six years ago in War of the Worlds (which in itself wasn't all that great). Edwards knows this and up until the last 10 minutes of the film gives us aliens lurking around every corner or right over the camera, but never directly in the lens.  This also increases audience's fear, thereby increasing our sympathy for the main characters and making the whole film that much more effective. Edwards could've bitched and moaned about his low budget and the relative inability to make great CGI effects, but instead he turned this to his advantage and made a film so delicately structured and paced that the finale event is both horrifying and heartbreaking. It's masterful work from start to finish.

I'd been wanting to catch the film for awhile, and was very impressed by what I saw. It's no surprised that Gareth Edwards will next be rebooting the Godzilla franchise. It's just unfortunate that his skills will be wasted on that barf. Let's all hope that he's a 'one for them, one for me' kind of guy and will take all the money from Godzilla to make an original idea that's just as magical as Monsters.


(Monsters is watch-instantly on Netflix and I recommend you check it out!)

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