Monsters: Dark Continent, 2015.
Directed by Tom Green.
Starring Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Joe Dempsie, Kyle Soller, Nicholas Pinnock and Parker Sawyers.
Ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the ‘Infected Zones’ have now spread worldwide. In the Middle East a new insurgency has begun. At the same time there has also been a proliferation of Monsters in that region. The Army decide to draft in more numbers to help deal with this insurgency.
Making a sequel to a critically lauded film as Gareth Edward’s Monsters (2010) wasn’t going to be an easy feat and Tom Green’s follow up Monsters: Dark Continent manages to expertly fail in every way. Much like the transition from Alien to Aliens, this time round we follow a group of soldiers as they attempt to deal with insurgent activity caused by the Monster infection. This is where the similar ends. Whilst James Cameron knew that along with big guns and explosions you have to have a good story, Green has seemingly forgotten this fact and created one of the dullest movies of the year so far.
Starting with the narration of our lead soldier Parkes (Keeley) we see a group of young guys heading off on their first tour. Narration can work brilliantly in films i.e. The Shawshank Redemption, American Beauty, American Psycho etc, but in this instance it feels like a sloppy way of setting up the scene and it does nothing to help us gain a sense of the characters that we’re supposed to care about. Meaning that as the film moves along and the characters are put in numerous bouts of peril, it has little to no effect. Johnny Harris as seasoned Army man Frater delivers probably the best performance of the film, but he is hampered by some shockingly bad dialogue and a supporting cast who seem to be sleepwalking through their roles. There are many instances in the film which poorly represent the Armed Forces, with civilians being abused by Americans left right and centre. The comradery that is paramount to the success of any war film is completely absent.
As with the original film, the Monsters take a back seat again in this film. Whilst the special effects of the Monsters are truly beautiful to look at, the simplicity of the first film is lost here and the metaphor of the Monsters as oil is ever-present. The idea of using the Monsters as a source of conflict is interesting; it’s just that the film is handled so poorly that you can’t wait for it to be over. It’s hard to think of Dark Continent without comparing it to the original which was essentially a road movie that happened to have monsters in it. Similarly Dark Continent feels like a half-baked war movie that happens to have Monsters lurking in the background.
With a shot of a single tear rolling down someone’s face every ten minutes and some heavy themes, Monsters: Dark Continent is an ambitious film but one that is ultimately lifeless and pointless to watch. Even when looking at it as an individual film away from its predecessor, it is slow, poorly acted and completely misguided.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Helen Murdoch is a freelance writer – Follow me on Twitter