Monsters: Dark Continent
Monsters: Dark Continent is the sequel to the 2010 film Monsters, which centres on how civilisation copes with an alien invasion. This film is set ten years after the initial attack, after the world has learnt to coexist with the monsters’ continuous presence on the planet. The focus of this feature is how the invasion has affected an unnamed Arab nation in which the local population has began to retaliate against American forces, whose indiscriminate bombings are as damaging to the nation and its people as the monsters. It follows four friends from Detroit on their first tour of duty, during what is initially a peace-building mission.
The strong cast bring the film together as the four men, Michael Parkes (Sam Keeley), Frankie Maguire (Joe Dempsie), Karl Inkelaar (Kyle Soller) and Shaun Williams (Parker Sawyers), convincingly establish their lives in Detroit, the bonds of their friendship and their motivations for war. Keeley and Johnny Harris as Sergeant Noah Frater are particularly strong in their depiction of the hopelessness, heartbreak and futility of war as it shrouds their sanity.
The key redeeming feature of the film is that it is visually disarming. From the muted tones of Detroit to wondrous desert scenes, careful attention is paid to immersing the viewer into the emotional state of the characters in each shot. Whether the muffled sound levels when an IED explodes, or the blurry desert fog echoing the effects of dehydration, each shot is intended to mimic their mental state in every moment.
While the film is an adequate depiction of the horrors of war, the monsters’ are superfluous. They are fluid and beautifully designed, and their presence adds to the mystical-yet-dismal atmosphere, occasionally building tension, but they are never built up enough to be something truly feared. They are relatively easily defeated, do not really represent impending danger, and their purpose is never explained. Their only function really is to act as a parallel for the misunderstood enemy insurgents as they check on their dead, and relate to their young, dividing the focus between the depictions of war and its psychological effects – the sci-fi invasion storyline actually only detracts from both stories. The monsters in particular are never really explored on any sort of substantial level, and while they are convenient plot devices, unfortunately, they never really serve any purpose in and of themselves.
Monsters: Dark Continent is released nationwide on 1st May 2015.
Watch the trailer for Monsters: Dark Continent here: