Lord of the Flies meets Apocalypse Now in MONOS, a searing, sometimes surreal story of child soldiers in modern day Colombia.

A group of teenage commandos are given the task to guard a prisoner of war, an American female known as Doctora, as well as a dairy cow, known as Shakira.

The company’s commander, Wolf and one of the female soldiers, Lady, have a warrior wedding and the company celebrates by showering the air in a confetti of gunfire. Alas, one of the exuberant and intoxicated celebrants, Dog, fatally wounding Shakira. Poor cow.

The dairy provider is hacked up for carnivorous consumption, Dog is incarcerated, and Wolf commits suicide. Cocky kid, Bigfoot fills the power vacuum and becomes leader, taking Lady to his bed.

The American hostage escapes and the film takes a breathtaking breather to focus on Doctora’s quest for freedom battling powerful river currents, tropical rain, mudslides and insidious insects. Romancing the stone as reality bites.

MONOS directed by Alejandro Landes, co written with Alexis Dos Santos is an amalgam of action adventure with meditative socio-political tract, a study of the group dynamic and peer pressures and the pursuit of power.

Cast largely by first time performers, MANOS features some incredibly raw and powerful performances, notably Wilson Salazar as the minuscule, muscular Messenger, the man charged with instilling discipline into this squad of kids. As a young boy, Wilson was drafted by his uncle into the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and grew up in remote jungles and mountains as a child soldier. He quickly rose up the ranks to lead one of the guerilla’s most feared combat units. After deserting this group, the guerilla placed a considerable price on his head and Wilson was forced into hiding. I hope it has been removed because Wilson is going to be well and truly recognised in this film.

The narrative is enhanced by Mica Levi’s impressive score and the cinematography by Jasper Wolf is never short of spectacular whether taking in the natural beauty of the mountain jungle and river or the night vision or the hallucinatory visions of the squad as they partake of magic mushrooms.

If for nothing other than its majestic cinematography, MONOS is a movie worthy of venturing back to the cinema.