Winner of a Sundance Special Jury Award, Monos is a visually astounding, thrillingly original fever dream situated somewhere between Lord of the Flies, Apocalypse Now and Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
Deep in the remote mountains of somewhere that might be South America, a troupe of barely adolescent soldiers for a shadowy guerrilla organisation are guarding an American hostage. While awaiting orders that may never come, they run drills, tend to a cow, and do what teens everywhere do – get high, have sex, hang out. That they have loaded guns and zero supervision or accountability works out exactly as well as you’d imagine, but in the hands of director Alejandro Landes it’s an extraordinary descent into surreal savagery, on steroids.
With cinematographer Jasper Wolf’s breathtaking widescreen imagery, and Under the Skin composer Mica Levi’s nerve-racking, otherworldly score driving the tension to almost unbearable levels, Monos is a dream-like, sometimes bizarrely funny but brutal mood piece haunted by the ghost of Colombia’s ongoing civil war. A fabulous ensemble of professional and non-professional actors (including I, Tonya’s Julianne Nicholson as the alternately terrified and maternal hostage) perfectly embody the increasingly unhinged anarchy of the group while Landes crafts a uniquely poetic and potent head trip that will leave you gasping.
“Part allegory for Columbia’s never-ending political unrest, part a darkly twisted, reality-pushing fairy tale … Monos is an unwavering visual and psychological dare that illustrates the surreal nature of war [and] a monumentally cinematic experience of lush wilderness and raw emotions.” – RogerEbert.com