“Monsters” is a horror movie that runs out of ideas long before it runs out of movie.

The set-up is simple: An American space exploration probe, designed to bring back samples of alien life from distant galaxies, breaks up upon reentry and crashes in the jungles of central Mexico. That was six years ago. Before long, new life forms introduced themselves – and Earthlings aren’t happy about it.

So a whole chunk of Mexico, the one-third just south of the American border, has been designated the “infected zone.” The USA has built its version of the Great Wall of China from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean to keep the marauding life forms from invading American soil.

(Gee, what a delicate metaphor for the fear of illegal aliens.)

The film starts with an American photojournalist named Calder (played by an actor with the unfortunate name of Scoot McNairy), who gets a call from home: The owner of his newspaper’s daughter is in Mexico and it’s now his assignment to put her on the last ferry back to the USA.

Blah blah blah they lose the ticket blah blah blah. So they have to take the cross-country route: up-river by boat, then through the jungle with guerrillas of some sort. The locals are all relatively good-natured, considering that the Americans have afflicted their country with a marauding race of creatures – which are the size of cargo cranes and look like ambulatory octopi – and then closed the door on any escape.

But you don’t care whether they make it because of the underwritten script by director Gareth Edwards and the lackluster performances by Nairy and Able. “Monsters” is a yawn: a film that expects you to bring more to the movie than the movie brings to you. That’s not much of an entertainment value.

2 stars

MORE FROM MARSHALL FINE:

Full Monsters review

Here are links to other reviews this week:

Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Wild Target

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