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Monsters: Low Budget, DIY, Sci-fi Film Excellence

Updated on May 30, 2015
Monsters' UK promo poster
Monsters' UK promo poster | Source

Monsters Official Trailer

The Plot in a Nutshell

Andrew, an American photojournalist who is on assignment in Mexico is tasked by his boss to find his daughter, Samantha, and bring her safely back to the U.S. The problem is that Mexico has been overrun by huge scary aliens.

With aliens throughout Mexico, finding safe passage to the U.S. border proves much more difficult than they had imagined. After a failed attempt to board a ferry bound for the U.S., the pair resort to whatever means they can find, which ends up being an armed escort through the jungles. After having a close brush with the alien invaders, they eventually make it back to the U.S.

A large part of Mexico has been infested with aliens.


Reasons Why I Love Monsters

One of the main reasons why I love this film is the guerrilla filmmaking style that Edwards used in shooting this film. Like the crews that made other films which I love such as Bellflower and Primer, Edwards made the film his own way. And doing it his way resulted is a very fantastic sci-fi drama which competes with (and even beats) the majority of big budget sci-fi films.

I am a huge sci-fi fan, but in so many big budget Hollywood films, the sci-fi aspects take center stage; effects and action are often emphasized to the detriment of the telling of a really good story. So I love the fact that Monsters is a character driven drama in which sci-fi is the backdrop for the interactions between the main characters.

The acting is great as well. Both of the main actors give great performances. They seem so natural in their roles that it feels as if you are watching a documentary.

Another reason that I love this film is that unlike so many 'Alien Invasion' films, the actual invasion is not the key event. Focusing on the aftermath of an invasion allows Edwards to tell a much different story than a viewer might be expecting. It has much more in common with District 9 than it does with films like Independence Day or War of the Worlds.

Get Monsters!

Never seen Gareth Evans' Monsters? Watch it today!
Stars of Monsters, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able
Stars of Monsters, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able | Source

Gareth Edwards on the Stars of Monsters

"[Scoot McNairy] and Whitney [Able] put up with so much crap. There was no red carpet treatment for them. It was literally sweating in the back of a van, hopping out, and doing scenes. There was no one there to get us coffee and stuff like that. It was totally obvious that [dedicated] attitude with him and Whitney all the time." - 2010 Film School Rejects inteview

Gareth Edwards (with camera),  Whitney Able, (center), Scoot McNairy (at right edge), and some of his crew shooting Monsters
Gareth Edwards (with camera), Whitney Able, (center), Scoot McNairy (at right edge), and some of his crew shooting Monsters | Source

Making Monsters

Shot in only three weeks in several countries throughout Central America as well as some shooting in Mexico and Texas, Monsters was a very DIY affair.

A total of about $15,000 was spent on equipment for filming. And the effects, which look amazing, were made using off the shelf software.

Edwards worked with a crew of 7, including himself and only 2 professional actors, Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy. The majority of the other people in the film are locals which the crew met along their way.

A lot of the film's dialogue was unscripted and improvised. Apparently they just drove around and would jump out and start filming, asking bystanders if they wanted to be in a movie.

Edwards wasn't sure what would come of the film once it was made. He didn't even know if anyone would ever even see it, and was hoping to get Monsters shown "in one cinema in England." 2 Much to his surprise, the film it ended up bringing in $4.2 million at the box office.

Gareth Edwards at 2013 San Diego Comic Con
Gareth Edwards at 2013 San Diego Comic Con | Source

Who is Gareth Edwards?

British director Gareth Edwards attended film school and had worked mainly in the world of special effects before before making Monsters.

Edwards worked on Heroes and Villains, a BBC series which focused on a different historical warrior each week including Attila the Hun and Spartacus. He was also part of a team that won the Sci-Fi London 48 Hour Film Challenge.1

The breakout success of Monsters got him the attention of Hollywood. As a result he was chosen to direct a reboot of Godzilla for Legendary Pictures (releasing 2014).


Monsters beats the pants of of the majority of Hollywood sci-fi fare. Nuff said!!


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