Avoiding post-modern chuckles, money-shots or gimmicks, Monsters is remarkably confident in its simplicity. The titular beasties are hardly ever on screen – they are almost a distraction when they are – and our attention is instead turned to the ordinary man and woman who are trekking through the forbidden zone. A man and woman who gradually fall for each other. And that’s all it is.
In fact, British director Gareth Edwards’ debut has more in common with Lost in Translation or other atmospheric romances of that ilk. Imagine Godzilla stumbling around Tokyo while Bill and Scarlett sing karaoke inside the hotel and you’ll get a good idea of what Monsters is all about.
The palpable sense of atmosphere here is the film’s strongest card. Edwards also helms the camera and his beautiful images are evocative of a sense of place. Whether a jet plane half-submerged in a lake at dusk, or a remote gas station beaming fluorescent light into the inky night-time abyss – combine these visuals with the evocative soundscape and you’ll forget you’re sitting in a cinema.
The clunky improv can distract from the realism, but Monsters key strength is in conveying what such an experience would actually feel like. Edwards has said that his movie is taking place on the fringes while the big blockbuster is happening just over the horizon. Where would you rather be? Hide