[2.0 stars] Monsters (2010) on IMDb [Amazon]

A low-budget sci-fi movie with pretensions. Didn't work well for me.

It's six years since Earth has been accidentally invaded by aliens: a NASA probe designed to pick up samples from some unspecified planet or moon crashed in Northern Mexico, letting loose a surprisingly tenacious plague of giant tentacled glowing shrimplike beasties. There's now an "Infected Zone" where travel is risky to impossible. Worse, the aliens are starting to aggressively break out of their zone.

Fate brings together Andrew and Samantha: she's (for a reason I didn't quite catch) on the Mexican side of the Infected Zone, and her rich daddy wants her back safe in the US. Andrew is a photographer working for one of Daddy's companies, and so he's coerced into finding her passage.

This doesn't work well. The alien breakout has disrupted normal traffic between the countries, and—guess what?—their only option is travel by river and land through the Zone.

What's good: for a low-budget movie, the alien special effects are pretty decent. The expository bits are nicely understated; if you watch it, pay attention to the TV news bits running in the background, road signs, and wall murals. Overall, we're given a decent picture of a society trying to adapt (sometimes failing to adapt) to a hostile alien presence.

Not so good: the movie is pointlessly padded with local Mexican color. Andrew and Samantha spend a lot of time together, allegedly developing their relationship, but the picture that emerges is of two shallow, irresponsible young people, not too bright, and not too sympathetic or interesting.

It's also simply inexplicable why these creatures are such a big problem. They're huge, slow-moving, and eminently killable. Their reproductive cycle doesn't seem like it would be difficult to disrupt.

Last Modified 2012-09-21 10:47 AM EDT