Film (2010). Vertigo Films. Written and directed by Gareth Edwards. Cast includes Whitney Able and Scoot McNairy. 94 minutes. Colour.
A returning probe carrying samples from the geothermal oceans of Europa (see Jupiter) has crashed in central America, which is now infested with giant cephalopods in an international quarantine zone. Cynical photojournalist McNairy is reluctantly charged with delivering his boss's daughter (Able) to safety in the US before the border closes ahead of the Monsters' seasonal activity spike, but when their passports are stolen they have to cross the overrun territory on foot. Their journey is paralleled by a growing insight into the aliens' exobiology, culminating in the realization that the creatures' aggressive behaviour and seasonal rampancy is the product of affectingly familiar behavioural drives. Improvised and filmed guerrilla-style on location by effects specialist Edwards with a four-man crew, no script, and no professional actors apart from the two leads, with the monsters and other effects post-produced in the director's bedroom, this low-key realist treatment of Aliens is closer in tone and narrative style to the films of Werner Herzog than to its urban counterpart Skyline (2010). Edwards and his stars claimed not to have considered the film's political implications as a film about immigration to the US, and indeed such a reading unduly closes down appreciation of an unusual and widely resonant film. The opening sequence is ultimately revealed as a displaced, unsettling, and ambiguous ending. [NL]
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