Monsters

As a child, I considered myself a connoisseur of giant monster movies. King Kong and Godzilla were the two classics, but there were various giant insect films from the 1950’s, the best of which was Them!, which is about giant ants that infest the sewers of Los Angeles (perhaps they were hoping to break into the film business.) I also remember one with a giant preying mantis. And there was Reptilicus, about a giant lizard that throws up acid on people. Then there was The Monolith Monsters, about these giant rocks that absorb people. (I remember I found this particularly disturbing for some reason.) And there was The Monster That Challenged the World, which was actually about giant snails that challenge a section of the Salton Sea. (Anyone who has ever been to the Salton Sea knows that’s a pretty good place to set a horror film.) The one that I found the scariest, however, was Kronos (I had nightmares about it), which is about a giant robot from outer space. (And what could possibly be scarier than a giant robot from outer space? Yeah, a Sarah Palin presidency, ha ha. I knew you were going to say that.)

With Monsters, the British director, Gareth Brooks, has bravely attempted to resurrect this beloved genre. A NASA probe has found samples of life outside Earth. While returning to the U.S., it crashes in Mexico. (Great, another reason for the Mexicans to hate us.) Giant creatures grow. Eventually most of northern Mexico becomes an “infected zone”. The U.S. builds a wall along its border to keep the monsters out. Now, I know that this is starting to smell like a political allegory. That’s not quite the direction this film goes in.

Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is a photojournalist working in Mexico. His boss has charged him with the task of bringing his daughter, Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) back to the U.S. Andrew takes her to Mexico’s Gulf coast, where she buys a ferry ticket to the U.S. Through Andrew’s stupidity, however, her ticket and their passports get stolen. (Yeah, this is another movie in which the guy is a total jerk, but the woman falls in love with him anyway.) In desperation, they hire some men to lead them through the infected zone to the U.S. border. Now, this is where the movie started to bug me. They then enter a rain forest. (Even a tea bagger knows that northern Mexico is arid.) What’s more, near the U.S. border they stumble upon a Mayan temple. Porter apparently assumes that most people don’t know anything about Mexico.

After a couple of horrific encounters with the monsters, which look like giant octopuses, Andy and Sam make it across the border. They find a town that has been completely destroyed. The monsters have entered the U.S. They find an abandoned gas station, where they call for help.

Spoiler Alert: I am about to give away the ending. While hiding in the gas station, Andy and Sam observe two of the monsters mating. They then realize that they love each other. I guess there is nothing more romantic that two octopoid creatures trying to reproduce.

At one point in the film it is suggested that the monsters attack people because the U.S. war planes keep bombing them, though this idea is never really developed. And it’s not clear what, if anything this film is trying to say about the current situation along the U.S.-Mexico border.

As giant monster movies go, I would say this film is much inferior to Them! and Kronos.

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