Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Taint


The Taint
Directed by: Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson
USA, 2010
Horror/Exploitation, 70min
Distributed Here!


How come low budget indie movies from the States and the UK always come off a lot better than the average low budget Swedish stuff that I get to watch for my genre page in Cinema magazine? This is a question that I find myself asking over and over again. I think that the answer could lie in the difference between the enthusiasm for making a film and the enthusiasm for filmmaking. Because the most obvious trait that differs these movies is the way they are put together.


I’m fine with poor acting if you have a story to tell me and at least have some value at stake and at least one or more characters that I can empathise with. But for ever couple of good attempts at indie genre movies, there’s twice the number of bad ones. Some with really bad acting, some with really awful shallow stories, if any at all, some with really crap effects and some that are written as if the scriptwriters think that their audiences are retards. Did I ever tell you about the one that had dialogue about cellphone coverage and asked "What do we do if something happens out here in the woods?" halfway through the flick? Geez, talk about shitty writing, insulting your audience and an entire art form!


Drew Bolduc & Dan Nelson’s freaky low budget oddity The Taint isn’t one of the bad ones. It’s a rather good one and a damned amusing one too. The Taint jumpstarts with some very suggestive imagery, a post coital encounter, an enigmatic chase, some pretty cool prosthetics and a kicking score as it eases its way into the title sequence.


Using fixed stock footage during the opening titles to show “the taint’s” genesis. This obviously pleases me as I have a section on knowing your protagonists origins in the horror storytelling lecture I give. You don't need to show it, but you better as hell know it. Here it’s served up in a brilliant way, as you will learn moments later when you are told that water is the origin the monsters of the piece.

Phil O’Ginny [Drew Bolduc] has some serious shit in his baggage, even if it's not all exposed - remember, if you know it, you can decide what to let out of the bag, and when. Here it’s kept quite hidden, but it's constantly taunting O'Ginny and tormenting him with some disturbing visions. After running from his nightmares he comes face to face with hard ass Misandra [Collen Walsh] who has made it her mission to take out all the men (and squirrels) infected with the taint. A disease that makes men who drink the water in the area misogynistic murder machines, with women as their prime targets. Oh, did I mention that they all run around with their dicks out and come when they smash rocks and what not into the heads of their chick victims!

Arriving at the base camp of Houdini [Cody Crenshaw] a right smug bastard who at one time used to be O’Ginny’s P.E. teacher, a teacher with a tendency to secretly touch the lads, abuse O’Ginny verbally and has a complete lack of empathy with anyone but himself. Obviously as soon as Houdini’s pack see Misandra they all decide that they are entitled to gangbang her, but they have to make their way past the unlikely hero O’Ginny first. Really not an obstacle as O’Ginny really is no hero... well not yet at least.


The masked Ludas [Kenneth Hall] makes his entrance into the narrative and the genesis of the taint is developed further telling the tale of how it evolved from messing around in a basement laboratory to full-scale epidemic due to greed and lust for pussy. Again this is told with some wonderfully grotesque moments and obvious provocations along the way. But there’s more gore galore to come and obviously the moment when our hero tries to rise to the occasion wrapped in the Stars and Stripes, riding his skateboard and showing his true characters, because Phil O’Ginny is certainly no misogynist… he’s something completely else. If you get the rush of insight then you can give yourself pat on the back now.

The Taint moves fast, it’s violent, at times funny, but also has a dark sombre side too. The story manages to hook me in quickly, ramming in some really wild P.O.V.’s, explanatory flashbacks and surreal O’Ginny nightmares along the way, and delivers an open ended climax that was quite satisfying, even if there still are some questions left unanswered, but I think these answers all depend on the rush of insight that you may have at the end.

Whatever conclusions you may come to, there’s no denying that The Taint is an atrocity of bad taste, misogynous, old-school gore effects, rubber cocks and a real angry hottie in Misandra who wields any weapon she can get her man hating survivalist hands on, although I’d have liked to see more of her before the movie ended. But that’s a completely different movie as this one is all about Phil O’Ginny and the encounters he makes on his journey.


It’s fair to say that The Taint is something of a survival horror road movie with elements of dark comedy, exploitation and trash cinema, where each character tells their path there through flashbacks, and it works really well. An exciting and out there piece that definitely will appeal to fans of wild and crazy movies in the vain of John Waters, Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma classics, Peter Jackson’s early Kiwi-splatters and the J-Gore gang Yoshihiro Nishimura, Nobura Iguchi and Kengo Kaji spun at maximum level in a blender for just over an hour.

Bolduc not only co-directed the movie with Dan Nelson, he also wrote the script, co edited the movie, scored several original pieces of music – of which some have a great eighties exploitation vibe going for them, he also headlined the piece and held several other important parts on production. And the final result is a great first feature to grow from. The Taint certainly has a lot going for it, there’s value at stake, interesting characters, well paced and never to long between beats and it’s a fun, blood-drenched movie to say the least.

A minor detail problem that I have with The Taint is that it’s just a too good a looking movie. This is one flick that I’d have loved to see gritty, grainy and trashy because it definitely has a great Grindhouse vibe to it, and I’m sure that some grain and grit would have looked magnificent on here.

A well spent seventy minutes if you like surreal horror with plenty of freaky moments and a non-linear narrative. The Taint delivers the goods and the goo, and definitely is a movie that fan’s of obscure, provocative and fun movies want to get their hands on. It’s a phallophobic’s nightmare, and a misogynist’s wet dream that comes together in a sleazy and violent riot that stands as a testament to guerrilla filmmaking in the independent realm, and once again proves that it can be done, as long as you hold a passion for filmmaking. That important key which is very perceptible in The Taint!


Image:
16:9 Widescreen, HD.

Audio:
Stereo 2.0

Extras:
Trailers and a commentary track with Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Geek Weekend!


Just spent two days out the Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Convention promoting CINEMA, the magazine I write for. A great time with some magnificent friends, and acquaintances. Amongst the guests signing stuff this year where Robert Englund, Edward Furlong, Joe Flanigan, Guy Sinner and Andrew Sachs... but they could equally all have stayed at home. The Queen of the show was without a question the legendary Christina Lindberg.


I'll just leave this here for you, as there's really no words that could ever describe how great it was meeting her. She was a real darling, and talked in detail of the sessions, photographers and for what magazines and movies the shots she was signing came from. Something that impressed me as most others don't give a toss whilst trapped in signing hell. And just for the record, when Lindberg arrived on Saturday, ALL other lines emptied! It was hilarious, and a proud moment for all.


King of the scene was the magnificent Fred Andersson, my dear friend, who debuted his book company, ODDBOOKS and sold half of the stock he brought with him. Hail to the king! Good show mate, and thanks for that brilliant photo of me and Christina above!


Fred of ODDBOOKS, bringing old school pulp horror back to the scene, and C-J of Gory-Glory Magazine, one of the few print fanzines still around.


And as soon as he's got his online shop set up, I'll be giving you a recommendation to pick up his unique Sci-Fi comic book. But more on that later.

Rat Attack! - New horror pulp back for more blood...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Studio-S & Videovåldet



Studio-S & Videovåldet
(Studio-S and the Video Violence)

Sweden, 1980
TV Show+Movies, approx. 16hrs
Distributed by: Studio-S Entertainment


This boys, and girls is the shit!

Never mind the videonasties… here’s the moral panic! The one show that put the Swedish video debate right up front and centre and caused a national panic unlike anything ever seen before. And this all happened before the infamous British Nasties controversy.

The programme Studio-S, a weekly debate show aired on Swedish TV, but only one single episode was so potent that it changed the country forever. At this point in time their where only two channels in Sweden. No cable, no satellite, nothing. Just Channel 1 and Channel 2. Here where voices being raised in parliament about the easy accessibility of violent and sexual deviant videos. Most of the movies seemed to be filled with sadistic death and perverted sex. Obviously something that parents wouldn’t want their kids to be watching. And things took a turn for the worse when it was noticed that some of the titles on display in the video stores had previously been banned theatrically in Sweden. Remember this is the country that has the oldest ever board of censors!

So being the only forum to discuss the growing problem, national television got in on the game. They sent out a meaty press release proclaiming that they where going to scrutinise the new phenomena of rental video’s and their content. They where also going to air clips from the programme and warned sensitive viewers of the material to be show.

Now just imagine what this meant to me as a young lad going on eleven… I can’t really remember how I came to see that show, but I certainly remember laying headlong down the staircase, sneaking a peak out of the side of my eyes, trying my damndest not to be caught by my parents who where sat watching. We obviously had a video recorder and the stuff that we where allowed to watch is certainly stuff I would never have shown my own kids at that tender age. Wei Lo’s, Bruce Lee vehicle, Fists of Fury 1972 and Ivan Hall’s Kill or Be Killed 1980, where amongst the first films I ever saw on video and they undoubtedly where a vital part of laying the foundation of my passion for alternative cinema. Anyway, my restrained view, and jackass-like balancing trick down the staircase, never really allowed me to see much of the show or the clips, but holy crap did that audio stay with me for a long time. Just imagine hearing the audio of Leatherface’s first appearance in the hallway, snatching up Teri McMinn, dragging her into that back room, hanging her on that meat hook and cranking up that Poulan 245A chainsaw and not seeing the images to accompany it. Boy, my imagination went rampant. The weeks that followed saw my mates and I talk about nothing but that show and the movies we made up claiming to have seen on rented tapes where certainly stuff that still is way too wild to ever have been made, and only a short while later we where crossing off the corrupting titles of that list of no-no’s. And when we worked our way through them, there was loads more to go through, that’s when I fist encountered the Italian stuff!

Nevertheless the programme generated a horrific spin that saw rental shops raided, new laws passed demanding age limits be mandatory and anyone renting tapes to minors and even displaying a range of titles would be taken to court. A bunch of blokes where taken to court and fined and a couple more in it’s wake. Obviously time changed and new things where determined to be dangerous and the focus shifted. Today nobody really raises an eyebrow about video violence and the age limits for watching movies have also become a lot more modest. But back then that one show created a wildfire of moral panic and definitely spawned a whole generation of horror movie fans.

Amongst them the legendary Sven-Erik Olsson, called by some, the funniest man in Sweden. However more than a funny guy, SEO is also a true enthusiast who, not only has a string of hilarious movies to his resume, but has also been a driving force behind a lot of really classic genre cinema releases for the last decades. Recently he’s been getting smaller movies up on national screens to critical and box-office acclaims. Four years ago he named his company Studio-S after the infamous programme and for the last few years he’s been releasing titles connected to the show and finally a long labour of love has been birthed. The Studio-S & Videovåldet box set.

Here for the first time since the second of December 1980 when it first aired, the Studio-S programme is finally released in its entirety. Uncut, uncensored and complete with clips, crying parents, fuming politicians and angled journalism at it’s best. It’s a true piece of Swedish history. But it doesn’t stop there, because this is one of the most spectacular box sets ever released in Sweden, because it also EIGHT DVD’s in all! Apart from Studio-S, there’s a beautiful two-disc version of Tobe Hooper's Texas Chain Saw Massacre 1974 and single discs of Dennis Donnelly's The Toolbox Murders 1978, Ulli Lommel's The Boogeyman 1980, David Scmoeller's Tourist Trap 1979, Hooper's follow up to T.C.M., Eaten Alive 1977 and Norman J. Warren's Terror 1978. The main disc is also filled with some fantastic extras, how about Måns F.G. Thunberg’s ten minute retrospect on video violence - featuring Jake West and Mark Morris of the VideoNasties documentary, and a outstanding trailer reel with 25 of the movies that where deemed to violent to be seen in Sweden compiled by the one and only wiz kid Stefan Nylén and a terrifyingly detailed breakdown of the video violence debate day for day up till now, and even my little show Skräckministeriet get’s a mention in the later entries. Ironically, as I've worked at SVT, the network that originally aired Studio-S, at their concrete block at the end of town, I know that there are a lot of people there, who are kind of ashamed of the Studio-S programme and what it brought with it. Not surprising as there's was further controversy some twenty-two years later when it was revealed in the SVT show Filmkrönikan (a weekly movie show, now defunct - Hmm how come they took that show off the air?) in 2002 exposed the fraud behind the Studio-S programme (if you don’t know I’m not telling).

I can’t tell you enough of the cultural value this is a box set, and time capsule, has. This is without a doubt the most important release in Sweden since you first heard the words dee-vee-dee. You really need to get your hands on it as soon as you can, because it’s a must for any Swede that calls themselves a genre cineaste. Otherwise you can NEVER talk about Studio-S and the VideoVåld debate again. Evah! I'll kick your ass if you do without owning this set. If you want to learn more of the debate and moral panic, pick up the box set on the 30-year anniversary, the 2 December 2010 when it hits the streets, or buy the December issue of CINEMA where I've spotlighted the debate, the aftermath and unravel a most shocking conspiracy theory... which now realising that Filmkrönikan was taken off the air after mentioning the fraud, makes it seem even more suspicious.

Go get some you pussies, it don’t bite!


R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt


Ingrid Pitt is gone.

An iconic leading lady, who it would be an understatement to claim being the most important of all the Hammer Horror women. Definitely the most sensual actress that ever walked through Bray studios in a skimpy transparent nightdress. I grew up with Ingrid Pitt. I really did. As a child I used to read the Hammer Horror comics, where she was featured quite often. The older I got, the more I started watching the movies, not to forget her reoccurring parts in Doctor Who adventures. I obviously started reading the books on Hammer and Pitt, and naturally I started seeking out her other movies when I got into collecting videos.

Pitt brought something else to the screen in the movies she figured in. Be it the Hammer stuff ranging from Roy Ward Baker’s Vampire Lovers 1970 to the reboot web series Beyond the Rave 2008. The Amicus film The House that Dripped Blood 1971, the gritty war movies, the TV serial appearances or just the small parts that she held in movies like Brian Hutton’s Where Eagles Dare 1968 or Robert Hardy’s The Wickerman 1973, there was just something special about her that really reached out from the screen.
This past year I was lucky to get a quick glimpse of Pitt at the World Horror Convention, which I talked about here earlier. Simply being in the reach of genre cinema royalty was enough, but apart from actually seeing her in the flesh, one of the greatest Pitt moments may have been listening to her talk about Peter Sasdy's Countess Dracula on the commentary track to that film. There’s a wonderful honesty and joy as she tells stories of how she got into the movie business, how she made determined decisions to become the iconic woman she finally became, and working for low budget cinema. It’s a brilliant commentary track which Pitt completely rules and it quite obvious that she enjoyed every minute of being on set, in front of the camera and giving her performances all she could.

It shows, and that may be that presence that shines though with her movies. Ingrid will never fade away from the memories of so many nights watching her great performances on screen. A legend in her own time who's untimely deptarture has left me shocked and sad as this was completely unexpected.

Until you feel the urge to drink our blood once again,

Rest In Peace Ingrid Pitt!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nude for Satan


Nude for Satan
Original Title: Nuda per Satana
Directed by: Luigi Batzella
Italy, 1974
Occult / Sexploitatiom, 90min
Distributed by: Njuta Films



Dr Benson [Stelio Candelli] on his way to an emergency call to the Whitmore house get’s himself lost and instead comes upon a “crashed” car. Being the good doctor that he is, he stops, gets out and finds Susan [Rita Caleroni] amongst the wreck. Promising to return with help he takes off to the large mysterious castle he previously asked directions at. Roaming around the eerie mansion he comes across a woman who looks just like Susan, and she insists on calling him Peter. Peter, who she claims to have been waiting for, for so long… Somewhile later Susan arrives at the castle too only to meet a man who looks just like Benson. With them both in the castle and a sinister strange man, [James Harris], taunting and luring them on, a surreal erotic nightmare starts to unravel as the Benson and Susan wander the dark corridors in search for each other.

Luigi Batzella, native Sardinian and man of many pseudonyms, Nude for Satan as Paolo Solvay, may not have been a great filmmaker, but he certainly made movies that leave an impression. No matter which genre he tried his hands at, he came out making some trashy pieces of low budget sleazy exploitation cinema. With a mere fifteen movies as director and several more starring in minor acting parts, Batazella left a decent legacy of tainted and perverted movies, which more than often brought a heavy dose of sexploitation to the subgenre he was tinkering with.
Perhaps best remembered for his string of Nazisploitation flicks; Kaput lager – gli ultimo giorni delle SS (Achtung – the Desert Tigers) and La bestia in calore (The Beast in Heat) both 1977 it should be noted that Batzella directed movies in the customary Italian Director for hire spheres. Spaghetti Westerns, War flicks, Action adventures, the Nazisplotation flicks and he also co-directed Bruce Le’s Challenge of the Tiger (aka For Your Height Only) 1980. Many of Batzella’s movies saw him working with American B-movie actors Gordon Mitchell and Richard Harrison who found new fame in Italian low budget fares, and Batzella wasn’t directing genre names, he was stood amongst them in the many movies he held smaller acting parts in.

But the movies that possibly are amongst his best, the occult sexploitation pieces Il plenilunio delle vergini (The Devils Wedding Night) 1973 starring amongst others Mark Damon and Rosalba Neri and Nuda per Satana (Nude for Satan) 1974 with Rita Calderoni starring against Stelio Candelli who has some great movies on his resume. Both these films deal with the witchcraft and the devil having it off with some scantily clad lads and lasses and are quite heavy on the old satanic orgy material. Atmospheric pieces that certainly will have any one keen to Satanism, nudity and the corruption of mankind happy. Obviously exorcised by censors throughout the years, it’s quite entertaining to see Nude for Satan restored to it’s full gritty sleazy glory, complete with lesbian romps, satanic shagging and triple-X inserts, even if it is quite dully assembled at times, but I’ll get back to that.

There’s often a lot of flack given to the directors working within the low budget sphere. If it’s not the shabby camerawork or bogus sets, it’s poor plots, bad acting and the recycled footage that frequently returns in their movies. But in all honesty this should be praised instead of criticized, because this is a solid testament to how dedicated these guys where to completing their movies and giving them that little extra fluff. Instead of skipping an establishing shot or a mood image, they simply dug into their archives and pulled out some previous used stock footage and they had the shot they needed. Most likely staying within budget too. It’s much like Bruno Mattei’s stock footage in Hell of the Living Dead or Jess Franco’s constant zooming in his Artur Brauner produced movies during the early seventies, the quick fixes became trademarks and also allow the director to complete the movie within it’s own limitations.

Anyways, returning to Nude for Satan… What a bloody great title that is - it leaves nothing to the imagination, and it's precisely what this movie delivers, nudity and satanic orgies. Yeah it’s cheap and dirty, but it’s pretty entertaining too. It’s no understatement that Nude for Satan is amongst Batzella’s finest movies. Story-wise it’s an interesting piece as there’s a kind of art house narrative going on, where the house acts as some kind of parallel universe run by the Devil [James Harris]. Well inside the house, Dr Benson and Susan separately meet their doppelgangers Peter and Evelyn, seeing both Calderoni and Candelli in dual roles as they try to figure out what happened to each other. Benson wants to reunite with Susan instead of the doppelganger Evelyn and vice versa. At the same time there’s sort of a tragic ghost story going on where the Peter and Evelyn characters long to be reunited. It certainly is trippy, dreamlike and at times, in comprehensive, but that all makes sense at the end of the movie. After confronting the Devil, the screen dips to black, Dr Benson get’s out of his car, located at the spot he slammed his brakes on in the opening, and runs to the aid of the young woman in the crashed car at the side of the road… Susan, but this time holding the medallions from her dream. Yes folks, it’s all been a frightening, surreal erotic nightmare taking place in their heads… or has it? Well whatever Batzelli intended, the ending is kind of a question mark, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have wanted it to end in any other way. How boring would it have been if Benson saved Susan and beat the devil! Instead there’s a window into a world where Satan has corrupted innocence, as Susan obviously didn’t want anything to do with the saucy Satanism until that orgasmic finale complete with laughing Satan, naked dancers and a depraved Paul snogging Susan into eternal damnation.

Batzelli also edited the most of his movies himself, Nude for Satan was no exception, and perhaps this is where some of his greatest talent came into play as the movie is pretty effectively assembled. In all honesty it’s really only the sex scenes that linger on too long primarily due to the graphic inserts. Due to their obvious different actors, sets and sloppy editing, I can't help but asking the question if Batzelli himself actually inserted the scenes, or if it was under protest, driven by some greedy producer or distributor. These scene have obviously not been given the same attention as the rest of the movie. Whatever be the reason, the movie, strangely, failed miserably at the Italian box office at the time.

Starting with Calderoni running naked through the woods in slow motion, whilst thunder and lightning flash and rumble, accompanied by the crooning vocals set to Alberto Baldan Bembo’s score efectively set’s a tone and mood for the piece. It certainly has a great Italian EuroGoth vibe going on and the first fifteen minutes are really atmospheric with Benson exploring the large windy cobwebbed creepy mansion and eerie score until he opens a door, gasps in shock as he stares at the mixed doubles nocturnal activities going on and sexploitation traits take over… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing is it. Although to do the movie justice, it really is more a EuroGoth mystery with some fantastic sexploitation moments than anything else, despite the seemingly random inserts. And there’s a really freaky spider scene that you won’t want to miss.

Strategia per una missione di morte ( Black Gold Dossier) 1979 saw Batazella direct his last movie. Struggling with ill health he retired from the movie-making racket at the young age of 55 and later passed away in 2008 at the age of 83. A renegade filmmaker who churned out some very memorable movies in his mere fourteen years as a director, some of them shot in less than two weeks. But never the less amongst his fifteen movies there’s still a few classic seedy gems, Nude for Satan is a must see movie for fans of crazy genre movies, and The Beast in Heat is still to this day Banned in the UK and forever immortalised as one of the original Video Nasties.

Luigi Batazella’s Nude for Satan in it's extended form is comming to Scandinavian DVD on the 1st of December, thanks to the team at Njutafilms.


Image:
16x 9 widescreen, Color.

Audio:
English dub, with optional Swedish, Danish, Finnish and Norweigan subtitles.

Extras:
Original Trailer, Slideshow and trailers for Sergio Greico’s The Sinful Nuns of St. Valentine, Alfredo Rizzo’s The Bloodsucker Leads the Dance, Enzo G. Castellari’s Cold Eyes of Fear, Walerian Borowczyk’s The Beast and Renato Polselli’s Black Magic Rites.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monsters



MONSTERS
Directed by: Gareth Edwards
UK, 2010-11-20
Drama/Horror/Road Movie, 94min

A probe returns to earth after NASA discover an alien life form in our solar system. But after the probe explodes during re-entry, crashing into Central America, a new life form starts to take hold of the jungle. Six years later, an “Infected Zone” separates America from Mexico. When the monsters in the zone start to attack outside the zone, freelance journalist Andrew [Scoot McNairy] is assigned to the task of getting his employers daughter, Samantha [Whitney Able], safely out of Mexico. Pretty soon they find that greed and corruption are at apparent even in times of crisis, and they are forced to take a route though the perilous Infected Zone to manage their return to American soil.

Comparing Monsters to District 9 would be wrong. There’s nothing that really connects them apart from the fact that aliens are part of our world. It wouldn’t be fair to compare it to something like Cloverfield either, as that movie kicks off hard from the start and just slows down as it goes along. The Mist isn’t too far off despite it’s piss poor characters and predictability. But somewhere in-between those three movies would be a good spot to place Monsters, even if I found this movie to be quite a lot better than all of them. Probably because District 9 uses is a comedic social metaphor grip, Cloverfield has thatstrong survival horror approach, and The Mist uses a really poor TV movie narrative and a social aspect with religion versus science angle. Monsters is neither, as it stands firmly on it's own.

Monsters is one of those skilfully crafted flicks that walks the stern path of realistic drama and uses a fair amount of horror genre traits to make some really effective moments. And there are some really creepy, suspenseful moments that certainly get the adrenaline pumping, especially whilst in the Infected Zone. But with that said it has to be pointed out that there are some really tender and delicate moments in the movie too. And that’s a vital ingredient to why this movie works.

Despite the title I wouldn’t say that Monsters is a horror genre piece. Instead, as mentioned above, this is first and foremost a drama. At times there’s a road movie quality to the film, at times it is horror tinted, and at others a tender romance, but never one determined genre. It’s a well-crafted mix of them all.

There’s a few effective ways that this movie manages to pull off it’s narrative. First and foremost, there’s the time taken to establish characters and their ordinary world. Second there’s the threat of the creatures, and then in the last act the deeper development of the characters. There are a lot of minor subplots and emotional arcs that come to a grand climax before the last minutes play out.

So in short, the movie plays out in three waves, the set up, the threat and the climax. It sounds pretty simple, but it’s all done in a really effective way. The handheld faux documentary style works for the movie, even though it’s never said once that this is a faux documentary, it just holds that tone, then the tone and mood shifts when in the Infected Zone. Rapid cuts, jumping over the axis and creating confusion as we isolate the characters from stern reference points… it’s all green and growling jungle. Finally the movie lands in the last act and the pace slows down giving time to those conclusions about to be made.

The ending may seem to be somewhat positively open when you first see it, but being that I always enjoy a movie that stimulates my mind, Monsters really stayed with me when the light went on and I connected the dots. Monsters does just that, it makes you think, because if you have been paying attention to the flick, the ending will give you a shattering rush of insight that puts the movie in a whole different light. This is a brilliant move by Edwards as he invites the audience to make the connection. A few edits made differently and the film would have had a completely altered tone. Instead it’s a piece that does crawl into your head and that all boils down to the characters and age-old emotions Life and Death, with love in between. Now don’t back away just yet. Monsters isn’t a love story, it’s not a romantic movie either, but it is a movie that plays hard with powerful tools like sympathy and empathy. Two of the most important ingredients no matter what genre you are working in. And we will always want a love story to work out, even in the most sinister and nihilistic world. We can fell the feeling and have an emotional recognition with the characters which makes us empathise with them, hence making us care about the characters.

Characters who are driven by the choices and actions they take. There’s a hefty does of common sense and logic in the narrative that otherwise easily over turned this movie, and the subplots come into action during these moments giving a subtle insight into what really is going on in their heads. I keep saying emotional movie, and that’s pretty true, because there’s a lot of that emotional recognition that helps it along. As a viewer I can totally understand the reactions Andrew and Samantha have in their interaction. I understand why they make the choices and go about the actions they take. It’s quite rare to see movies in this niche work this well. Remember in Cloverfield they decide to go look at the monster… dumbasses. You don’t do that, you run. There's a certain irrationality to their actions. But Andrew’s a freelance photographer and Samantha’s father pays well for shots of children killed by the alien life forms. See, there’s a logic reason to their actions and choices that make it all believable.

Finally we have to talk about the monsters. There’s a lot at stake when you call your movie Monsters, because if you don’t deliver, then you are screwed. Looking back at the movies I mentioned in the opening, District 9, Cloverfield, The Mist. Well they all kind of suffer from the same problem, once they show and reveal their creatures it never really manages to keep me interested. Sure, you could argue that the aliens in District 9 have character and personality. Yes they do, and at the end you have seen so much of them that they become acceptable characters themselves. But they don’t really intrigue me anymore. Cloverfield;, as soon as they showed that big bad monster, well, then the mystery is gone. It’s just a big bad monster. The Mist does manage to show monsters in various sizes and keeps it fresh, but at the end? It’s just a bid bad monster show too, and after those gigantic ones hit the screen it just looses it’s power because they are nothing but big bad monsters. But Monsters manages to present a rather interesting and intriguing monster that isn’t filled with the common big bad monster conventions. Sure, that’s the image we get in the early stages when we see them on the televised assaults, and when they attack during the movie – big bad monsters that wreck stuff and are more or less indestructible, but this all changes the further the movie goes. And the final question you ask yourself is, are they really monsters? The last minutes of the movie are easily amongst the most poetic and emotional monster scenes since Spielberg’s tear jerking finale to Close Encounters of the Third Kind... if you get the rush of insight that is.

Monsters is a brilliant debut feature. Engaging, creepy and moving. It's no secret that Edwards has a background working with C.G.I. on documentaries and stuff, and it shows. There’s not one spot where the computer-generated materials expose themselves. It all looks extremely authentic. Edwards has crafted an intelligent, beautiful and atmospherically movie that definitely deserves all the attention that it is getting and will have in the future. He can easily get in line with some of the leading new names of genre cinema spawning out of the UK as of now. It’s a great piece and the future seems to hold great things for Gareth Edwards. I’ll be looking forward to it.