5. Monsters (2010, Gareth Edward)
As much a love story as it is a monster movie, Monsters is a tender and moving film, one that is a classic journey story with a twist: a photojournalist and the woman he has been hired to bring back to the states are forced to trek through a Mexican wilderness populated by aliens. Creatures that descended from the sky a couple years prior, taking over the country and forcing the government to enact quarantine areas in an attempt to contain a menace they do not understand.
Andrew and Samantha are two different people, and and such do not get along. She doesn’t understand his job, he likes her but cannot seem to connect with her on any level. The fact that this film was made on a low budget is rather impressive, and that rests not only on the freaky looking aliens but also the two leads, who help carry the movie and give you enough reason to care about them. All great or good monster films rest on that concept, the idea that people are experiencing an unreal nightmare and are forced to deal with that nightmare: that a beast from who knows where has invaded their lives, impacting their ability to survive.
Plus I loved the shots of the Mexican countryside: the beauty of nature juxtaposed with the often constant danger of the aliens, the slowly growing connection between Sam and Andrew, the realization from both that maybe their lives could have greater meaning. Monsters is actually frightening at times, particularly during a night scene with a creature attack straight out of Jurassic Park, and that underlying thought of danger potentially happening is a running theme of the film. I’m glad that the young budding filmmaker Gareth Edwards is directing the new Godzilla film, because he has a clear eye for visuals and has already displayed that he can create a wonderful and yet sad experience in Monsters that left me wanting more.