Do not let this scare you off, this is a great movie, and I didn't know about any of that when I saw it. I really liked this movie and was impressed by its realistic style and effects. When reading about its production, my jaw dropped.
Its a slow movie, and much of the suspense from the tangible danger and the process of slowly learning about the "monsters". Its also a road movie, or traveling movie, of the best kind. The difference is that here they travel through a monster infested quarantined zone in Mexico's jungles, rather than the open road.
McNairy is great as usual, with great support from his wife Able and great Direction from Edwards.
Being one of the best monster movies ever, and the way it was made, will make this movie mentioned in the history books that started career of the movie genius Gareth Edwards.
After a NASA space probe crashes in Northern Mexico, aliens have spread throughout the zone, leading to a quarantine, Mexico and USA battle to contain them and prevent them from entering the USA. We follow Andrew, a photographer who is tasked to escort Samantha, the daughter of his boss, back to USA.
Directorial debuts are often limited due to their budgets but every once in a while a debut appears that surprises everybody and this film is one of them, but after watching it I can say that I can see what critics say but it left me completely cold. Before talking about it, it needs to be said that "Monsters" is not a Kaiju film, it is a character study of an unlikely couple (think about "Before Sunrise" rather than "Godzilla") so if you don't like those types of films then you should avoid this one. With that out of the way, "Monsters" is filled with problems. The two main characters are dull (our protagonists are a stupid and asshole photographer and a shallow rich girl) which is a humongous problem as the film is 100% focus on them thus we never care about them, the relationship between the leads is unbelievable, it is extremely heavy handed (this is Romero/Blomkamp level of heavy handed. I mean in the first minute the film flat out tells you what is the theme, which considering the past election is more relevant today than at the time of this film's release), the dialog is extremely melodramatic. the story is extremely limited, the pacing is quite slow, and it is dull as it has many solid ideas but they never materialize. But the worst part of this film is that it has greatness within but that doesn't matter when the script is weak in a freaking character study. But still let's give credit where credit is due: The visuals are gorgeous, the score is immersive, Edwards crafts such an ominous atmosphere, the world created is quite interesting, and the ending is perfect on paper but due to the acting and the poor characters it doesn't have any impact.
"Monsters" is a film that shines due to its confident direction but falls apart completely due to its screenplay and acting. Edwards shows to be a great visual director that knows how to create an atmosphere (even with a minuscule budget) but other than that this movie is dull, extremely heavy handed, melodramatic and stretched. An intriguing and remarkable debut that shows potential and has many good ideas but utterly fails in the execution.
This feeling is strong throughout the movie, and is communicated beautifully through the dialog between and development of the characters (and their relationship to one another) therein. It's as much a drama as a horror movie, so I can understand the chasm between the critical acclaim and the much lower Audience Score. Those looking for anything between Independence Day, Alien/Aliens, and Godzilla will be (or have been) sorely disappointed. But those who enjoy good movies - and all the elements necessary for such - will find a delightfully different sort of horror film in "Monsters"; scary indeed, genre bending for sure, but overall a solid film worth of the classic status it could potentially earn in years to come.