“Monos” takes place in the dense jungles and foggy mountaintops of northern Colombia, but it may as well be another planet. Director Alejandro Landes
’ thrilling survivalist saga tracks a dysfunctional group of young militants as they traipse through perilous terrain, engaging in savage behavior while toying with their mortified American hostage (Julianne Nicholson
), but they never reveal their motivations. Equal parts “Lord of the Flies
” and “Aguirre, the Wrath of God
,” Landes’ third feature distills guerrilla warfare into sheer anarchy.
By stripping away the sociopolitical context, “Monos
” provides a window into power-hungry mayhem on the fringes of society that could happen anytime, anywhere — but depicts its hectic showdowns with a you-are-there intensity that could only take place in the present. Aided by “Under the Skin
” composer Micah Levi
’s thunderous score, Landes delivers a suspenseful encapsulation of alienated youth enmeshed in pointless battles that can only lead to further destruction.