Monsters: Dark Continent (Tom Green, 2015)

Following Earth’s invasion via the voluminous titular menace, a Detroit-bred bro squad with stereotypical mindsets enter the military to protect their own from the otherworldly. Deployed to the Middle East, said soldiers are soon brought up to speed with a concurrent war on native insurgency and what they must do in an attempt to unite both factions against their common enemy. Things inevitably go tits-up at the hands of unpredictable circumstance as disaster strikes, prompting all involved to crank their Survival knob to eleven should they hope to survive the ensuing shit storm.

Indifference pains me as I outline this ineffectual and faux-lyrical dross, the low-budget yet humanely intimate trappings of Gareth Edwards’ Monsters vanquished by way of banal militaristic exposition. Barring the heavy-handed obviousness of the “Which threat is the REALEST?!” angle characteristic of post-apocalyptic avenues these days – i.e. The Walking Dead, etc. – the only justification for Dark Continent‘s existence is to exploit a bigger budget within an affably bleak and unique alternate reality. Unfortunately, intermittently splurging on superior VFX can only net so much interest before said visuals amount to absolutely nothing.

Dark Continent finds strength in its performances, however the efforts of those involved are overshadowed by the sheer familiarity of war-specific trauma. It becomes burdensome to witness how obviously by-the-books the film plays it between the covers of the “Horrors of War” handbook, dead comrades, children and the like serving only to fuel inevitable or persisting PTSD. All potential emotional gravitas considered, the fledgling soldier angle and rote conflictual setting do little to generate a response equal to or greater than that of better, earlier efforts.

All in all, Tom Green’s earnestly executed if largely needless and one-note sequel – by name only, mind you – is a pretty tremendous misfire. Mistaking late-in-the-game visual “lyricism” for affecting substance, some pretty grating expository missteps paint our key players as basally-tiered army bros whose naivety results in predictable tragedy. Bad shit gets done and seen in the presence of the listlessly-traipsing beasts, all of which amounts to little as things go from bad to worse to “How much of this could they have cut?” It’s truly unfortunate given the previously soft-spoken success of Edwards’ original triumph but complaining about it won’t alter the reality of Dark Continent‘s existence.

 

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