Review: Monsters DVD

Monsters DVD boxSTUDIO: Magnolia | DIRECTOR: Gareth Edwards | CAST: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
RELEASE DATE: 2/1/11 | PRICE: DVD $26.98, Two-Disc Special Edition DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $29.99
BONUSES: Special Edition and Blu-ray: featurettes, deleted and extended scenes, HDNet featurette, short film, digital copy, more
SPECS: R | 94 min. | Sci-fi thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Monsters movie scene

Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able hit the road in Monsters.

A lot of hubbub greeted the science-fiction thriller movie Monsters around the time of its limited theatrical release and video-on-demand debut last fall. That’s because writer/director Gareth Edwards raised eyebrows by making the film on the cheap, creating special effects on a computer. Edwards, who has a digital effects background, has been suitably rewarded with a plum assignment: resurrecting Godzilla for yet another expensive studio remake.

As for Monsters, the film, also written by Edwards, is best seen as a strong calling card for Edwards’ future work. The plot tells of a photographer in Central America (Scoot McNairy, The Off Hours) who must escort a woman who happens to be his boss’ daughter (Whitney Able, Mercy) through Mexico to safety in the United States. What awaits in Mexico are a bunch of squid-like alien creatures who roam freely after being unleashed following a NASA crash a few years back. During the rugged journey, the two young people become close as they dodge perilous situations while trying to make it to America.

Monsters is more about mood than the actual monsters — it’s actually an intimate road movie in which the threat of the aliens loom large. There are obvious similarities between this film and District 9, as well as a political allegory involving immigration and mistrust of what lurks on the other side of the border.

Fans seeking a big payoff or extended special effects sequences are bound to be disappointed. But those looking for an existential take on the contemporary sci-fi and horror monster template are in for a treat.

Bonus features on the DVD include a bunch of featurettes and extended scenes and, more notably, Edwards’ 2008 sci-fi short Factory Farmed.

 

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About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.