"Monsters" is no ordinary horror film. If it were, it might be a bit better than it is. As the movie stands, it's a less-than-compelling relationship drama, with aliens.
Borrowing the handheld lensing and easy pace of a low-budget character piece, director Gareth Edwards, a CGI artist by trade, has created a dystopian landscape that's so naturalistic, it's uncanny.
What brings Monsters down from its extremely low perch is a conspicuous lack of monstrosity -- the best the filmmaker's laptop has come up with is fleeting glimpses of supersize squid -- together with the vacuousness of the hero and heroine...
The immigration and drug war parable and photojournalism ethics are never front and center, but draw attention because Edwards doesn't deliver well-earned frights or even cheap jolts. It's a good-looking movie with zero sense of urgency.
With Monsters, Edwards transcends the special-effects auteur label, creating a memorable sci-fi story in which the hero and heroine are true equals in the adventure. How's that for an alien concept?