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'Monsters' and Metaphors With Writer-Director Gareth Edwards

With its sideways vision of a shattered Mexico -- and of protagonists trying to cross the border at all costs -- Gareth Edwards is acutely aware that "Monsters" is being picked apart and praised as a political metaphor. But he claimed that wasn't necessarily his aim -- or, at least, that he was shooting for a different kind of metaphor. "It was deliberate political allegory in the film, but not to do with immigration," he said. "I think wherever we set the film, we would have had our giant wall, and we would have had an infected zone, and we would have had a journey trying to get out. Once we picked Mexico, everybody said, 'Is it about illegal immigrants in Mexico?' If we picked Australia, everyone would say, 'Is this about Aborigines being rejected by society?' If we picked England, it would be, 'Is this about Eastern Europeans illegally coming to England?' I think we would have gotten that wherever it was. The allegory I was interested in was: You have a monster or an enemy or evil that you don't like, and it's like ... at what cost is it worth destroying that monster? If you're doing it because you're worried it will kill people, but in the process of getting rid of it, you kill even more people, is it worth doing still? Those sort of questions are the ones I was trying to pose a little bit. Not enough to be preachy, I hope, but yeah."

Of course, just as buzz-worthy is "Monsters"' budget -- but Edwards is quick to dispute the often-cited figure of $15,000. "The value that's thrown around on the Internet, which is the $15,000 one, we never spent that. Where that came from was we did this thing for Best Buy, and they asked us what the equipment we made it with was -- like the computer and the camera, et cetera -- and they added it up to $15,000. But that obviously wasn't the budget. There's office costs, and we've had flights and hotels and stuff. So it adds up to more than that, but it's still what you'd call, I guess, microbudget. I genuinely do not have a figure, but I can make my own guesses, but it's thousands, not into the millions or anything. It's not as cheap as $15,000. ... I'd feel very comfortable saying way under $500,000."

And yet, as Edwards explained it, what makes "Monsters" work isn't the kind of inspiration required by a small budget or digital video or computer-generated effects but, rather, pure passion. I asked him if he's being offered other creature features, based on "Monsters," and he explained that while that was the case, he's reluctant to sign on board any project until he finds something he loves. "You get a little bit of that, and I thought that would be fun," he said, "but making a film is two years, and it's an intense two years of your life. It's like marriage or something; it's like, making a script for someone else, it's a bit like if you get married and you have a wedding that everyone likes and everyone says, 'Your wedding was amazing. Can you maybe do our wedding? We're getting married and we'd like you to do our wedding.' The only reason this wedding was any good was because I loved what I was marrying. I put my heart and soul into ("Monsters"), so the idea of someone coming along and creating an arranged marriage with another project -- and somehow I happened to fall in love with it -- I think it's very rare. There's not much material that I would want to do that's from someone else. I think it's got to come from me." "Monsters" is currently available On Demand and opens in theaters, with perfect Halloween timing, on Oct. 29.

Next Week in The Rundown: Better, Stronger, "Faster": Behind the Scenes With Dwayne Johnson

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