This edition of Versus should probably incorporate Neill Blomkamp somehow as his extraordinary film District 9 kind of paved the way for more low(ish) budget/high concept films. Even better, he did it by creating an imaginative short film called Alive In Joburg first which I included below.
Director Oren Peli did an amazing job with a tiny budget and created a massively successful horror franchise. He proved that it doesn’t take a ton of money to create a horrific atmosphere if you have a solid concept and clear direction.
2010′s Monsters showed us that you don’t need a massive budget to create a successful alien invasion story.
Director Gareth Edwards created the incredible visual effects by himself but more than that, he created an pretty fantastic film driven by wonderful characters.
Each took relatively small budgets (Peli especially with a budget of $15,000) and armed with entertaining stories, launched themselves into the Hollywood spotlight.
Sometimes all it takes is a good idea and the passion to pull it off. Blomkamp did it and is now seen as one of the leading young directors today.
So which director will win this battle? Lets break it down.
Oren Peli and company made this film in 2007. It was a long time before it got into the hands of Steven Spielberg.
The marketing team did an incredible job of creating hype for this film. Basically, daring people to demand it in their cities. Using the web, social media and positive word of mouth, a tremendous amount of hype was generated.
And the film delivered as promised.
This film didn’t get nearly enough publicity leading up to it’s release. It’s unfortunate.
I did like how they released it online. I wish it was available somewhere On Demand in Canada early on. I would have definitely payed to rent it.
Instead, I was forced to wait.
Winner: Paranormal Activity
These films are both incredibly alike and incredibly different. Both films involve 2 main characters facing enormous challenges and both keep things relatively simple. Where they differ is scale.
Shot in one house with hand held techniques. The ‘found footage’ style is executed perfectly and provides some of the best scares in recent memory. Peli does a fantastic job showing you just enough to keep you at the edge of your seat while holding back for the spectacular finale.
Monsters is a much more polished film. While P.A remains locked in one location, Monsters takes you on a journey filled with Aliens, Armies, Battles and much more. Edwards has a great eye for visual effects. You’d never know they were done on such a low budget.
Using clever placements of signs, debris and other effects, the director creates a perfect ‘Infected Zone’ that pulls you into the story.
I give the edge to Monsters here for the sheer scale the director managed to achieve.
Both main characters did a great job selling the story to the audience but there were still moments here and there where it felt a little over the top.
The strength of this film is the character work and a lot of credit has to go to the cast.
To this day it remains one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. Such a simple concept. Such an entertaining movie.
Monsters had a different impact on me. The way the film is presented was inspiring. I may not know a lot about visual effects but I’ve certainly applied it to my screenwriting. I’m no longer afraid to go a little further instead of constantly worrying about escalating costs.