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ReThink Review: Monsters -- the Real Aliens at the Border

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Digital video and desktop/laptop editing have brought filmmaking into the hands of the average person with an idea and some people to put in front of the camera. This has done wonders for those looking to make documentaries and smaller movies that primarily focus on people talking, with digital movies quickly overtaking filmed ones as entries in our nation's film festivals. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity showed that horror movies are also excellent candidates for new this low-budget approach, especially when atmosphere and tension are more important than gore.

Now, with Gareth Edwards' film Monsters, it appears that even convincing sci-fi/giant monster movies are within the grasp of low-budget filmmakers who know their way around effects software. Listen to my ReThink Review of Monsters for Pacifica Radio's Uprising show by clicking on the image below.

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I feel that I didn't say enough about Monsters as a potential allegory for immigration in my review, so I'd like to do that now.

(WARNING: Contains some slight spoilers that you'd probably figure out from watching the trailer.)

Q: Are the alien creatures in Monsters supposed to symbolize Mexicans trying to cross the US border?

A: Maybe. One thing I like about Monsters is that it portrays the aliens not as technologically advanced beings bent on world domination, but simply as giant animals following their instincts to migrate based on the season. While they are undoubtedly destructive, there is no evil intention to their behavior. In that sense, you could say that illegal immigrants, like the creatures, are simply doing what they can to survive and are not crossing the US border to turn the US into Mexico or hurt Americans by taking their jobs. Still, no one wants giant aliens rampaging around their country under any circumstances, so comparing the aliens to Mexicans can't be seen as a call for tolerance.

Q: Are Sam and Kaulder white Americans forced into experiencing what Mexicans crossing the border go through?

A: I think that's a fair parallel. To get back to the US once the option of taking a ferry is eliminated, the two are forced to pay a large sum of money to a man who is essentially a coyote. That's the term for someone who charges a high price to lead Mexicans on the perilous route across the US border, requiring payment up front with no guarantee of success, and sometimes with plans to swindle their helpless clients out of their money. Once Kaulder and Sam pay the coyote, they can only trust that he will keep his word and arrange for the safe and easy passage they paid for -- which wouldn't make for much of a movie if that happened. And like the real trek to cross the US border, it's a journey fraught with danger where the possibility of death is very real -- just not from giant octopus monsters. If you still have any doubts, the conversation Kaulder and Sam have when they reach the fortress-like wall at the US border should convince you.

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