OWF Attend Gareth Edwards' MONSTERS Cult Film Screening!

Upon hearing that the Jameson€™s Cult Film Club€™s screening of Gareth Edward€™s Monsters was to be held at The Royal College of Surgeons, I questioned my lead; do they actually show films there? However, when I and my fellow blogger VIP€™s were lead through the grand building to a rarely seen wing that contained ulcerated penises, cross sections of a child€™s hollowed skull, jarred brains, animal mutations - among other biological oddities - the choice of location couldn€™t have become more apt for a screening of a film called Monsters. This was the location for our meet and greet with director Gareth Edwards. At just thirty-five years of age he has seen his first feature film gain the kind of recognition we haven't seen since Quentin Tarantino and Kevin Smith in the nineties and has given Edwards the opportunity to direct Warner Bros' mega budgeted Godzilla reboot, currently set to go into pre-production in the summer. While Edwards was tight lipped about the forthcoming film, he did confirm that Matthew Broderick would not be reprising his role and he also had no plans to resurrect Jamiroquai€™s €˜Deeper Underground'! Approaching film time we made our way down from our wing and were confronted with scenes of pandemonium - the sounds of choppers soaring overhead, bombs dropping, monsters wailing; groups of soldiers donning radioactive suits and gas masks patrolled the stately halls while news crews €“ reporters and cameramen €“ darted through the crowds, desperate for interviews from us fearless souls. The Royal venue, now bathed in luminous greens, pinks and yellows had been masterfully transformed into €˜The Infected Zone€™. And the screening room was by no means a €˜safe area€™; protective face masks graced every seat. And with air raid sirens and warning messages blaring out from all angles in glorious Dolby surround sound I thought it best to play it safe and mask up. And I wasn€™t the only one playing it safe; Edwards was escorted to the stage by an armed guard to introduce his movie that will doubtless be a €˜cult classic€™. Oozing charm and humility, Edwards resembled a kid in a candy store, almost overwhelmed that his €œlittle monster movie€ was already considered worthy to be included in a film club that previously screened Hitchcock€™s seminal Psycho. €œWhat is a cult movie? I think it€™s a film that some people love and some people hate. So in that respect Monsters very much fits this bill.€ On Godzilla he remained as non-committal as when I spoke to him earlier; never committing a straight yes when pushed with, €˜what about Godzilla?€™, but happy to bring up the famous monster at any given opportunity, €œI would describe Monsters as €˜Lost in Translation meets€ Godzilla€, he said with a wry smile and received a big laugh from the packed-to-bursting theatre. But the comparison is justified; Monsters is not your typical monster movie. The fact it had a budget of a mere £500,000, was shot with a crew of just two people and all special effects were done by Edwards himself on a laptop computer ensured this. Edwards, as if feeling the need to defend himself against criticism from a room full of people, not all of whom had seen the film €“ including myself €“ who might be expecting something akin to a modern Hollywood monster movie where you can count the number of frames that the - invariably - CG monster is not on screen, said €œDo you know how much screen time the shark in Jaws gets in the first hour? I timed it with a stopwatch €“ six seconds.€ So, please just remember that an hour into Monsters if you€™re feeling deceived.€ Set in the not so distant future where a probe containing alien specimens from Europa €“ one of Jupiter€™s moons €“ crash landed around the Gulf of Mexico and now six years on have grown into giant, octopus creatures that roam free wreaking havoc, the film follows Andrew (Scoot McNairy) a cynical photographer who unwillingly undertakes the task of transporting his boss€™s rebellious daughter Samantha (Whitney Able) back to America. The safe way €“ and the extortionately expensive way is by boat, off and around the coast. The certain-of-death way is by land, through the €˜infected zone€™. It€™s an easy, albeit expensive option; however, when Samantha loses her passport, they have just one option €“ go by land. The monsters are present. Quite present indeed from the beginning and they are terrifying. However, it is the character relationship and the romantic bond that forms between the central leads, which makes this such a compelling and enduring viewing experience, which in my view, is the most memorable quality of Jaws. We care about Quint, Brody and Hooper; we fear for their lives and will them on against the Great White. This is the essential element of a monster movie, and this is exactly what Edwards achieves with Monsters. The plot is simple; the couple have the inevitable close encounters with the alien creatures with close calls and moments of tension strung out with great suspense. The CGI is sometimes obvious, but flawless when needed to be, most notably with the real close encounter in the final act. There are some overly trite lines of dialogue, but these are few in a film that shows just what can be achieved with a minimal budget if you have a well-structured script, subtle direction, authentic locations (all shot on location in Mexico, often without permission) superb cinematography and most importantly two fully developed, deep and very human characters, perfectly captured and conveyed by two very promising young actors. Scoot McNairy€™s performance is just as genuine in his other star turn in €˜In Search of a Midnight Kiss€™ another role where he shared ninety minutes of screen time opposite a female lead. Equally good is Whitney Able, who manages to be sexy and alluring without the luxuries of costume changes and make-up, while putting in a strong, complex and emotionally deep performance. Credit for their performances must of course go to Edwards who having identified them as his leads, vested the trust in them to improvise lines and develop characters on location from his outline of a script. Monsters is a master class in quality over quantity and shows what can be done with limited means and bundles of talent, industry and determination. As someone with a background in visual effects €“ Edwards worked as a digital artist for seven years before making the transition to directing €“ and with an obvious penchant for blockbuster movies €“ it was only natural during my brief chat that I ask which superhero he would love the chance to bring to the big screen. To my surprise he answered, €œI€™m not actually interested in doing a superhero movie. But as a kid the one I really liked was Spider-Man.€ So you€™ve heard it first here, after next summer€™s reboot of Spider-Man with Andrew Garfield, Edwards will reboot a reboot by remaking Spider-Man. I am of course joking, but would anyone honestly be surprised with the way Hollywood€™s derivative machine seems to be cranking out the lowest common denominator in the way of imagination or originality. However, if Edwards€™ down to earth manner, and casual attitude are anything to go by, I remain confident he will not get seduced by the Hollywood movie making, money gouging machine. I think I speak for the hundreds who attended when I say that the CFC put on a unique and spectacular event that drew us into a different world long before the film had begun. Just like I await with great anticipation Gareth Edwards next directorial outing, I cannot wait to see the CFC€™s next schedule of inductees into their cult hall of fame and wait to be shocked, surprised and satisfied by the spectacle they create to celebrate it.
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Frustratingly argumentative writer, eater, reader and fanatical about film ‘n’ food and all things fundamentally flawed. I have been a member of the WhatCulture family since it was known as Obsessed with Film way back in the bygone year of 2010. I review films, festivals, launch events, award ceremonies and conduct interviews with members of the ‘biz’. Follow me @FilmnFoodFan In 2011 I launched the restaurant and food criticism section. I now review restaurants alongside film and the greatest rarity – the food ‘n’ film crossover. Let your imaginations run wild as you mull on what that might look like!