Despite what some well-known contrarians may have you believe, 2010 was undoubtedly a very strong year for cinema. At the box office, intelligent cinema with mass appeal flourished, with big hitters such as Toy Story 3, Inception and The Social Network balancing extremely positive critical reception with all important profitability.
It was also a fine year for British film, with at least three hugely significant debut features; Chris Morris’ terrorist satire Four Lions, Clio Barnard’s sumptuous doc experiment The Arbor, and (last but not least) visual effects expert Gareth Edwards’ superb sci-fi road movie Monsters.
On Thursday evening, the Jameson Cult Film Club presented a special screening of Edward’s debut at Holborn’s Royal College of Surgeons. Taking its cue’s from the themed Secret Cinema series of screenings, the entire building was dressed out as a high security research facility, staffed by a crack squad of elite scientists and military personal fully equipped with bio hazard suits, gas masks and (of course) a variety of Jameson cocktails.
The welcome addition of realistic jungle foliage and real sound effects used throughout Monsters – including the distant sounds of jets, helicopters and the film’s enigmatic extraterrestrials – further enhanced an already engaging atmosphere.
The slightly delayed main event (due to some unfortunate miscalculations in terms of attendance numbers) was introduced by both Edwards himself and Monsters’ charismatic editor Colin Goudie. Simultaneously cracking jokes and dodging some rather irrelevant questions about Edwards’ next project – none other than the much anticipated reboot of the Godzilla franchise – the pair seemed genuinely humbled and taken aback by the crowd of cult film lovers amassed before them.
As for the film itself, what more is there left to say? Billed by many as a “British District 9“, Monsters is arguably the superior film, following less of the generic action sci-fi template and instead aspiring to be more a mockumentary travelogue of two people’s journey through a harsh, “alien” environment – think Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (2003) rather than the xenomorph vs. human bloodbath of Aliens (1986). For more information on the film itself, read our review of the theatrical release here.
The evening was wrapped up nicely as the event’s guests were given free reign of the facility’s Hunterian Museum, showcasing some of nature’s strangest creations in all their pickled glory. Highlights included a four legged chicken, the enormous skeleton of a 7″7 Irishman from the 19th Century and a collection that many on the night simply referred to as the “knob section”. If you’re ever in the Holborn area and have a hankering for some brine-based fun, the Royal College of Surgeons may just be for you.
For more info on the Jameson Cult Film Club, visit jamesoncultfilmclub.com.