Monsters, written and directed by Gareth Edwards, starring Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able (2010): Made for something on the order of $800,000, Monsters manages to weave desktop special effects and found footage into an enjoyably creepy trek through a Mexico “infected” by alien life brought back on a U.S. space probe from Europa. Right now, all the best horror movies seem to be made for almost no money at all. Kudos!
In Monsters, an American photojournalist gets tasked by his boss to find and return the boss’s vacationing daughter to the U.S. before the annual shutdown of the land route back to the U.S. through the Infected Zone occurs. So they try to make it back behind the giant wall that’s been erected across the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s pretty much the entire movie.
The “monsters” are cleverly kept mostly off-stage until the last five minutes or so, while the effects of their occupation of what looks to be the entire Yucatan Peninsula are nice bits of cinematic misdirection and appropriation (ruined hotels and skyscrapers, sunken fighter planes, and a whole lot of death).
The leads are affable, though Scoot McNairy’s resemblance to Skeet Ulrich gets distracting at certain points. You’ll want to rewind to the beginning and watch the first five minutes again once you’re done, and get ready to freeze frame. Highly recommended.