Monsters Director: Gareth Edwards
Starring: Scoot McNairy, Whitney Able
The digital effects artist Edwards makes his directing debut with Monsters, a low-budget movie that makes a big impact. He is also the writer, director of photography, visual effects supervisor and production designer on this road movie/romance/monster flick that has deservedly been lauded as one of the best movies of the year. Kaulder (McNairy), an American photojournalist in Central America, is asked to escort his boss's daughter Sam (Able) back to the US.
However, this is more complicated than it seems after a series of mishaps means she misses the last ferry back, and instead the pair must trek through the "Infected Zone" to get home - a long strip of land along the American border that is inhabited by alien creatures.
Shooting his cast of (mostly) two using a single camera, and making use of his skill with special effects - all the more impressive when you realise the film's budget was under £500,000 (Dh2.87m) - Edwards delivers a fascinating drama set against a grim, almost abandoned landscape, where aliens are glimpsed but rarely revealed (and when we do see them, they're not disappointing like the monsters of Cloverfield, either). There is as much danger here from the US bombing the creatures' habitats to the extra terrestrials themselves, and the pair's journey at the heart of this terrific film is both gripping and moving, tense and even comic as they try to find their way home through this strange land.