The title suggests a straight-ahead ‘creature feature’, yet Gareth Edwards’ enterprising debut manfully resists categorisation. On one hand, it’s a sci-fi thriller set in an area of the U.S.-Mexico border cordoned off because it’s been colonised by rampaging aliens, creating an imaginative landscape as striking and believable as, say, District 9 or Cloverfield. On the other, Edwards’ portrait of fateful travelling companions finding an unlikely mutual connection has much of the dramatic subtlety and nuance of a Before Sunrise or Lost in Translation.
The combination of artful digital effects work (completed on Edwards’ home computer!) with fast ‘n’ loose Central American location work certainly puts leads Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able on their mettle, but their convincing emotional engagement heck, they got married after the shoot! sets the scene for a bravura finale that brings the film’s diverse strands together with a miraculous flourish. Call it a semi-improvised road-movie romance monster flick if you must; just don’t miss it.