Ever since director Neill Blomkamp managed to turn the $30 million production of District 9 into a $115 million domestic haul, Hollywood has been looking for the next low budget sci-fi film with mega blockbuster potential.

Who better to bring that next hit than mostly unknown writer/director Gareth Edwards with his film Monsters. While the movie was screened at Cannes, to predominantly positive reviews, today we’ve got the first official trailer. The film opens in limited release on October 29th.

Gareth Edwards’ Monsters stars relative unknowns, Whitney Able (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane) and Scoot McNairy (In Search Of A Midnight Kiss). Here’s the official synopsis, in case this is the first time you’re hearing about the film:

“Six years ago NASA discovered the possibility of alien life within our solar system. A probe was launched to collect samples, but crashed upon re-entry over Central America. Soon after, new life forms began to appear and grow. In an effort to stem the destruction that resulted, half of Mexico was quarantined as an INFECTED ZONE. Today, the American and Mexican military still struggle to contain the massive creatures… Our story begins when a jaded US journalist (McNairy) begrudgingly agrees to find his bosses daughter, a shaken American tourist (Able) and escort her through the infected zone to the safety of the US border.”

Check out the trailer for Monsters courtesy of IGN:

Similar to Blomkamp’s District 9, Edwards was able to pull together amazing visual effects on a shoe-string budget – relying on character-driven performances from his lead actors. A Magnolia Pictures press release gives a bit more information about the petite Monsters production:

“Gareth Edwards’ groundbreaking new film is as much a poignant contemporary romance as it is an epic science fiction adventure. Shot with just a five person crew and a cast of two, Gareth Edwards’ team traveled through Guatemala, Belize and Mexico, finding and utilizing their locations and supporting actors as they went.”

Early reviews of Monsters were certainly favorable and the trailer is definitely intriguing – even if it does directly mimic the District 9 style and tone. Considering the similarities in both the trailer, as well as the UK Monsters poster, it’s clear Magnolia is intentionally drawing strong comparisons to Blomkamp’s break-out hit. Which, if Monsters can pull it off, might not be such a bad marketing strategy.

Hopefully for Monsters, McNairy and Able can match the terrific comedic timing, as well as emotional complexity of Sharlto Copley’s Wikus Van De Merwe – without which District 9 wouldn’t have been nearly as successful.

The trailer is certainly enticing and should whet our appetite for a great sci-fi passion project – at least until the District 9 sequel arrives.

We’ll certainly keep you updated as we near Monsters’ Fall release.

Monsters opens in limited release on October 29th 2010.

Source: IGN [via /Film]