Monsters: Dark Continent Review

Monsters: Dark Continent

Release Date: May 15, 2015 (US)

Starring: Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Dempsie

Director: Tom Green

Studio: RADiUS-TWC

In 2010, director Gareth Edwards directed the indie sleeper hit “Monsters” where a couple played by newcomers Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able make their way across Mexico to get back to America and safery from an infected zone overrun by giant cthulhoid aliens. The film was an intimate story about a couple set against a backdrop of a foreign culture in a world almost like ours minus the aliens, who served as a plot device in the film.

Yet, the original film’s script showed that the other “alien” influence was a foreign culture and used the story to comment on that and the military. The film ostensibly gave Edwards the gig directing Legendary’s 2014 Godzilla remake because it was a story driven character piece.

Fast forward to 2015, and we have british director Tom Green (known for helming the Channel 4 British X-Men meets delinquents show Misfits) doing the sequel to the film “Monster Dark Continent.” Does the film work like Edwards’ film? Sadly, no.

Green’s film sets his film, which he also wrote, a decade after the first and focuses on soldiers heading out the Middle East. There we have “insurgencies” caused by soldiers bombing civilians while targeting the aliens. This is meant to draw a parallel to the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq and done with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Monsters Dark Continent becomes an overlong homage to films like “The Hurt Locker” and “Full Metal Jacket,” with our main character Michael played by Sam Keeley, an analogue for Joker in Kubrick’s film – a human alone in a group of soldiers becoming increasingly inhuman. The movie makes the argument that the soldiers are the true monsters complete with a scene of Johnny Harris’ Frater growling in an inhuman rage as he must complete a mission later in the film and is willing to let Michael die because of it.

While the aliens played a role in the plot in the film, here they merely serve as eye candy and to show how the foreign other respects them and sees them as part of the new world, while the soldiers fear and loathe them and even stage dog fights with them. While the storytelling is derivative and obvious, the film is beautifully shot and has a good score. Unfortunately the film’s languid pacing and near 2 hour running time make it a difficult chore to sit through.