'What's that coming over the hill, is it a.....' Monsters is very much the creation of its director, Gareth Edward's. He devised its concept, wrote it, shot it and did the effects. Although produced on a shoestring (And they probably couldn't have afforded the Private Ear if they'd wanted him) the soundtrack duties were obviously one job too many for the multi talented creator of this British Sci-Fi Thriller.
Telling the story of two Americans trying to make it to their homeland across the 'Infected Zone' travelling through Guatemala, Belize and the Jungles of Mexico whilst avoiding tentacled alien life forms was never going to be an easy journey. The film, billed as an amalgam of Lost In Translation meets District 9, has however, despite its meagre budget, garnered a lot of positive critical acclaim.
Jon Hopkins, the London based purveyor of melodic electronica, may not have been an obvious choice but the results have largely justified the decision. Hopkins has previously released 3 solo studio albums and has most recently been collaborating with Brian Eno (Small Craft On A Milk White Sea) as well as the iconic film director David Lynch. His work with other artists have included Imogen Heap, folk-tronica group Tunng and Coldplay, so plenty to draw on. Couple with that Jonathan Julian Hopkins started playing piano at 5 and studied at the Royal College Of Music from the age of 12 and you'd be forgiven for thinking there was no other choice.
The mood and tempo of the soundtrack is very understated. It's as much about what's left out as what's included. The terror is implied rather than manifested. Your imagination can conjure up the imagery with enough ominous undercurrents and swells of impending doom to keep you firmly lodged behind the sofa. There are delicate piano swirls as well as neatly crafted string arrangements by Davide Rossi. Guitars are provided by fellow Eno collaborator Leo Abraham's whilst Hopkins provides the electro driven backing score that also includes some very menacing bass lines.
The soundtrack to Monsters is more mellow than manic, more low key than loud but it works to compliment the film just as well. There is calm and serenity in 'Temple', a terrifying decent into the unknown on 'Underwater' and the most overtly chilling sonic soundwaves saved until the penultimate track 'Encounter'. As an isolated body of music it may only satisfy a group of ambient enthusiasts but that was never really its purpose. It is Music From The Film Monsters, and that is where it works best.