Thumped’s Random DVD trip: Wherein Hector Grey enters the Xtravision across the road and grabs the first couple of things that appear in the shelf. This week: Monsters and Stakeland.

Thumped’s Random DVD trip: Wherein we enter the Xtravision across the road and grab the first couple of things that appear in the shelf.

This time out we’re going on some post-apocalyptic road movies with Monsters and StakeLand.

You had me at post apocalyptic, honestly. I’ll forgive most things for a bit of P.A., it’s where I believe we’re all heading. Monsters, however, isn’t necessarily post apocalyptic. I’m not sure there’s even a suggestion of impending apocalypse. I’m not sure of anything, any more.

6 years ago NASA, after finally discovering alien life, “accidentally” dropped a load of said critters whilst flying over Mexico, causing the northern half of the country to be quarantined behind a massive wall. The creatures in question appear to be giant octopi, who enjoy breaking through the cordon and giving puny humans the occasional shoeing. This gives the testosterone junkies of the US army grand excuse for firing off their guns and going all “fuck yeah!” and such.

Andrew is a photographer who works for a publication, Samantha is the daughter of the owner of said publication, and after she’s injured in a minor skirmish with an octopus, he’s co-opted into escorting her to the coast so that she can get the ferry home. I’m not clear on why she’s there, or why, being the daughter of some tycoon, she can’t afford to fly home, even if it means taking a longer route. And from what we observe, it doesn’t look like these alien octopi can jump 50,000 feet into the air, but how and ever. Andrew does his job, taking her to the ferry terminal, and helping her buy a ticket for 5,000 dollars. Then he rather conveniently gets roaring drunk and sleeps with some hussy who runs off with all the passports (he has hers, for some reason) and tickets and shit (but not the money or his camera, it would seem) and they are forced by circumstance to head through, rather than around, the “infected zone.” Eek. Here be monsters.

Not least among the monsters are the two main characters. To save money on scripting, so it could be funnelled into creating some hideous, marauding aliens, the two chaps make up most of their dialogue as they go on. The chemistry is non existent, and frankly they’ve nothing to say. This isn’t like Before Sunrise with some malevolent giant squids in the background, it’s vacuity masquerading as a burgeoning relationship. Perhaps it’s the shared trauma of surviving the infected area that brings them together, perhaps it’s a facile plot device to cover the utter lack of story.

It’s a road movie, which is apparently this week’s theme, with no road. Instead they travel down a river and are out acted by the spectacular scenery. Here and there relics of human inhabitation remain, spookily rendered empty buildings, fallen aeroplanes, stricken boats and the rest, and during the blessed silence they manage to create an actual atmosphere.

When America appears, on the other side of a wall that makes the Great one in China look like a privet hedge (take that China!), it’s in a state of Katrina-like eboulement. Our two lead bromides encounter some of the aliens up close and they appear to be making cooing, loving noises at one another. Aliens can love! Maybe we can too! Or maybe, as we have nary an insight into what they’re actually saying they’re talking about how they like to fuck shit up and don’t humans taste so yummy. The point is obvious, who are the real monsters here? The army, with their ordnance and guns and destructive air strikes, the ferry man with his unsympathetic ear, the photographer who wants a picture of a dead girl for the magazine, the overbearing father, the government who sat by while southern states were destroyed by Hurricane Kat.. Sorry, giant CGI octopi or, ultimately, the producers of this wafer-thin brain avoider.

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