“Love and Monsters” stars Dylan O’Brien, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt, and Jessica Henwick. Released on October 16, 2020, the film has a young man traveling across the post-apocalyptic wasteland to find his high school crush.
The film is directed by Michael Matthews, who also directed “Five Fingers for Marseilles”. There’s absolutely nothing that can get in the way of true love, not even a bunch of monsters in a post-apocalyptic world. Not exactly the way to spend Halloween, but I can take what we can get. This latest action comedy has gone through a game of musical chairs when it comes to release date changes, which in fact wasn’t mostly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as far as I can tell. Originally set for a 2020 theatrical release, it was delayed to next year before the studio finally decided to just release it via video on demand this weekend instead. I believe that they were so proud of the film that they wanted to show it to their audiences as soon as possible. To be honest, I don’t really blame them because it has a pretty interesting concept based on its trailer. I mean, look at it, it’s a film that combines action, comedy, romance, and monsters. Who doesn’t love watching humans battle monsters in a post-apocalyptic setting, especially on Halloween? I know I do. With the involvement of producer Shawn Levy and screenwriter Brian Duffield, the guy behind such films as “The Babysitter”, does it live up to its promising potential? Let’s gear up and find out.
The story follows Joel Dawson (O’Brien), a young man who is spending some quality time with the love of his life Aimee (Henwick), which didn’t last very long when an apocalyptic event wiped out most of the human population by turning insects and reptiles into monstrous beings. Seven years later, Joel, along with the rest of the survivors, is now living underground while the monsters take over their planet. He then starts to reconnect via radio with his girlfriend, who is now living in a different colony in a different state. Realizing that he has nothing else to live for underground, Joel sets out on a perilous journey across the monstrous jungle-like wasteland to find her. As I already mentioned, the film has pretty much everything that you would expect out of something like this, including Dylan O’Brien battling a group of nasty monsters that eat people. However, it also has something that makes it stand out compared to the other films from the same genre: a soul. Underneath the film’s post-apocalyptic shenanigans lies a heartfelt and entertaining adventure that represents the importance of living life to the fullest, even in the midst of this “pandemic”. I would definitely give it credit for delivering this type of message while also catering to audiences who enjoy post-apocalyptic comedies, especially during the time that we’re in right now. It’s an inspiring message that I believe works well as a metaphoric element in a fun monster film. Michael Matthews had a type of balance that combines action, comedy, and heart, which can make or break the film if not handled properly. Fortunately, with the help of Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson (the writers of the film), he was able to make this balance work by placing his focus on both the characters and the post-apocalyptic elements. There were actually a few moments that I thought were surprisingly effective in terms of the film’s emotional depth. They’re not enough to make me tear up or anything, but they’re sincere enough to make me root for the main character to survive. Dylan O’Brien was extremely impressive in his role as Joel. He had the kind of performance that’s not only humorous, but also charming. After seeing him in the “Maze Runner” films, I still find it nice to see him continue to make himself known outside of the Young Adult franchise. Michael Rooker was also a delight to watch as Clyde Dutton, an expert monster hunter who trains Joel with his small sidekick Minnow, played by Ariana Greenblatt. My only problem with his character was the short amount of screen time he had. He was only there to serve his purpose and nothing else. Maybe they’re saving him for a potential sequel? When it comes to the monster designs and the film’s setting, the visual work in “Love and Monsters” is something that’s worth mentioning. The film has that jungle-like feel to its post-apocalyptic setting, which may or may not be similar to the Playstation game, “The Last of Us”, depending on how you look at it. As for the monsters, I got to say that the visuals weren’t too bad. The designs on the monsters were both fresh and creepy, and the effects, both practical and CGI, that bring them to life were actually pretty decent for a mid-budget film.
Overall, “Love and Monsters” survives almost every post-apocalyptic trope ever created to deliver a fun adventure that’s full of creatures, laughs, and depth. It doesn’t beat out “Zombieland” as my favorite film of the genre, but it does offer plenty of things that we come to expect along with a surprisingly solid story. Thanks to its cast (particularly O’Brien), some good moments of humor, Matthews’ direction, and some decent visuals, this is another win for the video on demand trend. It is definitely worth paying the $20 rental price if you enjoy these types of films unless you prefer to wait for a price drop.