I was really excited to watch Monsters because the Empire review made it clear that this was an effects-driven sci-fi horror with comparisons to be made with the marvellously schlocky District 9 (which I wrote about on its release on this very blog, in fact).
Instead, Monsters reminded me of being stuck in Andalusia, Southern Spain, during April’s ash cloud kerfuffle, and the trains/(no)planes/automobiles schlep that followed. Honestly.
Impending but pretty abstract sense of doom? Check. Stunning scenery? Monsters looks absolutely amazing, and I can’t believe there are many prettier train journeys than the one the snakes through Basque Country en route to the ferry ports on the northern coast. Long periods when very little happens? Very definitely. Fine, handsome travelling companions? You bet.
Monsters is, first and foremost, a movie with a message, and you don’t have to have seen it to work out what message a film featuring alien immigrants kept to the south of US borders by an enormous wall might be trying to convey (this is established very early on so it hardly counts as a spoiler).
But as tales of dystopian futures go, Monsters neither has the bravado to be laugh-out-loud, popcorn-munching entertaining and serious (District 9), nor the courage of its convictions to be truly apocalyptic (The Road, for example).
It’s more like a quite-exciting-in-places, beautifully photographed documentary about an expedition to see more of a new species. Which just happens to be an alien race.