is a British sci-fi thriller directed by Gareth Edwards
released in 2010.
Six years previously NASA believed they had finally discovered alien life in our solar system and went about trying to gain themselves a sample. Unfortunately the probe they sent crashed upon re-entry over an unsuspecting Central America. It wasn't long before new (and terrifying
) lifeforms emerged and spread at such an alarming rate that half of Mexico found itself quarantined. Now as the Mexican and American military struggle to prevent the creatures from expanding outside of the "Infected Zone" our story begins.
Andrew, an American photojournalist, is tasked with helping his rich employer's daughter, Samantha, get back home to the states. As you'd expect the simple train ride home is prevented by damage to the tracks and soon the pair find themselves on a dangerous journey through the infected zone to reach the US border.
Notable for its miniscule
budget (under $500,000) but high quality special effects. Director Gareth Edwards
' experience working with visual effects (which he personally did for the movie) proved to be an incredible asset. All of the extras were just people that happened to be around while filming and a lot of the scenes were shot on location without worrying about the trivial need for permission to film.
This film provides examples of:
- Alien Invasion: Of the accidental kind.
- Amateur Cast: Besides the lead couple none of the cast members had any acting experience.
- Artistic License - Geography: So apparently there are thick rainforests and Mayan ziggurats just south of the Rio Grande, since the main characters stand atop a ziggurat while looking at the American border wall.
- Bloody Handprint: Seen on a wrecked yacht as the protagonists journey down the river in the Infected Zone.
- Berserk Button: Fighter jets flying overhead send the giant aliens into a killing rampage, presumably because they've come to associate the sound with Death from Above.
- Bioluminescence is Cool
- Chekhov's Gun: Samantha sees a TV documentary on how jellyfish attract mates with a light display. Later on she realises the giant alien is attracted to the light of a television set and turns it off.
- Crazy Homeless People: The only person left in the Texas Evacuated Zone is a mentally-ill bag lady who apparently didn't evacuate with the sane folks.
- Deadly Road Trip: Admittedly, the monsters were there before the plot starts, but there's no other way to characterize the trip through Mexico to the US.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: An unwanted bunch of aliens from Mexico are constantly attempting to cross the US border and actually succeeding despite a giant fortified wall being put in place to stop them. You've got the American immigration controversy.
- Though one wonders if the creators remembered that the walls were put up to keep monsters that are killing people out of the US. Were they saying that Mexicans are monsters that will destroy society? Or did they just not think their commentary all the way through?
- Everything's Squishier With Cephalopods / Combat Tentacles
- Hostile Terraforming: Alien spores growing on trees.
- How We Got Here: The movie opens with a convoy of soldiers retrieving a young couple, then getting attacked by a giant alien which kills or wounds the woman. The rest of the movie depicts how the couple got to that point, but ends before actually reaching it.
- Humans Are Bastards: Surprisingly averted. It seems the military may rain down the occasional heavy-handed airstrike to take down an alien but aren't seen doing their usual "It's The Only Way To Be Sure" approach, namely making a crater the size of Mexico. People just seem to be trying to survive or adapt to the situation rather than kill each other over it.
- Improv: The film was shot opportunistically, with little to no outline of scenes and their direction. The two actors were given a general outline of scenes and simply interacted with one another and the other cast members, all whom are not actors. All the scenes and shots were improvised as well.
- Kaiju: The big, tentacly blue whale-sized aliens that stomp around on huge spider legs, fight the military (despite not actually being antagonistic) and smash things tick enough boxes to qualify.
- Non-Malicious Monster: It's heavily implied if not downright stated that the aliens aren't the aggressive monsters that they are perceived as. Sure they look scary, especially given they're nocturnal and their appearance. They do hurt and even kill people but this is probably curiosity, self defense and just their sheer size. During the finale, two of the creatures meet up in an awe-inspiring light show and completely ignore the humans nearby.
- Motor Mouth: Andrew whenever he's supposed to be quiet. The moment something mysterious happens, he's loudly asking "WHAT IS THAT? WHAT'S HAPPENING?". Probably largely due to the ad-libbed nature of the movie.
- Obscured Special Effects: Most of the time the aliens are shown, at least one of several things occurs: we see small portions of them, they are shown through blurry amateur video or night vision, or they are seen when it is very dark. This was done to conserve the very low budget for the few shots where we do see the whole creature unobscured.
- Oh Crap: While traveling down river in a boat the engine cuts out. Then it gets dark. Then a large fin slices through the water — subverted when it turns out to be a downed fighter aircraft. Then another Oh Crap moment when giant tentacles yank the aircraft under water again, showing just how easily it can sink the boat. Another example is when the protagonists reach the Great Wall on the US border only to realize that the aliens have already spread far beyond it.
- Reality Subtext: The U.S really is building a wall on all of the Mexican-American border. Some parts are already finished.
- Road Movie
- Runaway Bride: A passive version with Samantha clearly reluctant to return to her fiance and get married, but unwilling to take action to call the whole thing off.
- Considering it's taking strange huge creatures, unnaturally introducing them to a foreign environment and then failing to contain them, it makes sense Jurassic Park was cited as the main influence.
- One of the soldiers on patrol in the opening scene hums "Ride of the Valkyries," calling it his personal theme song, in a clear homage to Apocalypse Now.
- Starfish Aliens: The aliens are giant squid-crab things with bioluminescence that grow from mushroom-like polyps.
- The Unreveal: Whether the protagonists survive the giant alien attack and subsequent airstrike.
- The Wall Around the World: Those living in the Infected Zone joke that the giant wall erected around them by the US government is becoming this.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never learn what originally happened to Sam's arm.
- X Meets Y: Sometimes cited as District 9 meets Cloverfield. Minus the "documentary style" it does share a few traits with these films but overall it arguably does a good job of creating a different experience than either. Word of God says that Jurassic Park was actually the influence for the film.