The sci-fi drama "Monsters" is inevitably going to get comparisons to last year's breakout "District 9."

The sci-fi drama “Monsters” is inevitably going to get comparisons to last year’s breakout “ District 9.”

Both are set matter-of-factly in a near future where alien life is on Earth. Both are character-driven and make thinly veiled statements on present social issues.

But only one of them really works, and it isn’t “Monsters.”

Six years before the events of “Monsters,” alien life was discovered in our solar system. A probe crash-landed in Central America in what is now a segregated “Infected Zone” where monstrous aliens roam. An American photojournalist (Scoot McNairy) must escort his boss’ daughter (Whitney Able) safely through the zone and back to the U.S.

Writer-director Gareth Edwards crafts an intriguing take on the monster-movie standards and does so on the cheap.

Special effects are used sparingly but effectively, as the alien creatures take on the unseen quality that makes the shark in “Jaws” work.

But it was the wimpy bureaucrat in the lead that made “District 9” great. It was the family interactions that made South Korea’s “The Host” great. These characters aren’t up to those standards, nor are these actors capable of overcoming an awkward and obvious love story.