Reminiscent of District 9, with a sprinkle of Jurassic Park, Monsters is about aliens finding themselves on Earth, not by their own fault. What would humans do if they crashed on an alien planet and were lucky enough that they could breathe the air and sustain themselves? Fight for survival.
A photographer named Andrew Kaulder (Scoot McNairy) is strong armed by his publisher to escort the publisher’s daughter Samantha Wynden (Whitney Able) home from Central America. He agrees only reluctantly. The movie is about their hapless journey home, through the back country in Mexico, all the way to the US border.
To get there, they have to cross the Infected Zone, a vast swath of land in Northern Mexico. The remnants of the war between the aliens and the Mexican and the U.S. military are everywhere: downed helicopters, crushed tanks, ruined buildings and a jumpy populace. The journey is scary and full of suspense.
This is a very low-budget film. Writer and director Gareth Edwards shot this with a budget of $15,000. Most cameras cost more than that. Critics didn’t think it was possible. There are none of the endless and hokey special effects of Starship Troopers, where aliens are blown up and spewing body fluids by the thousands. It’s more a realistic story of two naive young Americans in a situation that is way over their heads.
Besides the lead actors in this movie, all of the secondary roles and the extras were just locals playing themselves. It shows, and it makes the whole story come alive and real. This is what science fiction should be.