Pick of the Week

Monsters

Science fiction drama; rated R for language; also available on Blu-ray

The Gist: Six years after a space probe crash, giant tentacled aliens have infested northern Mexico. During a particularly bad “outbreak,” cynical photojournalist Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) must escort pretty rich girl Sam Wynden (Whitney Able) through the infected zone.

The Lowdown: One of the best science fiction films of the last few years, “Monsters” is a marvel of inventive, sophisticated, low-budget film making. Director Gareth Edwards’ background is in computer-generated visual effects, and he works wonders here with – according to the press materials – two PCs and some Adobe software.

Maybe more impressive is how skillful Edwards proves to be as writer and director. “Monsters” is truly unlike any alien invasion movie you’ve ever seen. The love story between Able and McNairy – both impressive in their feature film debuts – stands on its own as compelling romantic drama. By the time the critters arrive, we care very much about these two, and that heightens the emotional impact of the creature feature sequences.

Overall, Edwards displays impressive restraint with the effects. The creatures are usually only seen in glimpses, or in the distance – until the final scenes, where we get a real eyeful of the titanic, terrifying and oddly beautiful monsters. Ten-story bioluminescent squids, basically, but no description can really do them justice. Edwards’ creations go into the pantheon of great movie monsters.

The Extras: The single-disc edition has some deleted and extended scenes, a short production doc and a commentary track with the director and actors.

The Bottom Line: Inventive, scary and fun, “Monsters” is an impressive debut from a very promising new director.

Double Secret Bonus Tip: Fans of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft will recognize the literary inspiration for these beasties. Cthulhu lives!

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