(2010) ★★★★

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After a Nasa space probe mishap, half of Mexico is an alien Infected Zone, with military helicopters constantly whirring overhead and ominous signs everywhere. Photo-journalist Scoot McNairy is ordered to escort publisher’s daughter Whitney Able through the Zone to the US border. Able’s badly shaken by a close encounter the previous night. McNairy’s resentful that he’s missing the chance to get one of the creatures on film. Early on, Able asks a San Jose taxi driver if he feels safe living here. “Where would we go?” he replies. She later asks McNairy if he feels bad about needing something bad to happen so that he can profit from it: “You mean… like a doctor?” As much off-balance road-trip as imaginative sci-fi creature-feature, this is an outstanding debut by British CGI animator Gareth Edwards. There’s a wit and resonance to Monsters that makes the massively hyped Cloverfield look puny. Cleverly designed and directed resourcefully on a limited budget, the attractively understated Monsters looks more than good – it looks like a real film. Which is not a tag that ever applied to Cloverfield. The talented Edwards, by the way, did not direct the new sort-of-but-not-really sequel, Monsters: Dark Continent, which has opened to mixed reviews. Putting it politely.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 94min