Love and Monsters
Michael Matthews' Love and Monsters is that rare overly-positive take on the apocalypse, blending together humor and light action/adventure to make for an emotional journey. Star Dylan O'Brien gives a charming and notable performance.
Michael Matthews‘ Love and Monsters is the latest premium video-on-demand release from Paramount Pictures, promising mid-budget action and adventure featuring The Maze Runner‘s Dylan O’Brien living in a post-apocalyptic world that is full of over-sized bugs and insects. Love and Monsters is surprisingly funny and emotionally sound, making for a film that hits every beat almost perfectly.
Love and Monsters follows Joel (Dylan O’Brien) as he navigates the new world in hopes of reuniting with past girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick). What makes this new world new is the fact that 95% of humans have been wiped off the Earth by giant mutated bugs that are now essentially monsters. These bugs are the result of asteroid debris mixed with bombs and missiles that were used to prevent its full impact with our planet.
Now, people live within colonies that are mostly located underground and out of sight. The population is dwindling and hope seems to be a thing of the past, all while Joel decides that he’s sick of living in fear and living alone, which springs the idea to leave the safety of his colony and head for uncharted territories in hopes of finding Aimee and rekindling the flames of the past.
This sounds like a typical journey, only the difference here being that Joel is an inexperienced kid that spends most of his time cooking for his colony in the kitchen, having never left home base after settling in. He freezes up when he panics and he’s never even used a weapon, which makes him the prime candidate to get eaten by a giant ant.
But this doesn’t deter Joel as he sets out on his own journey.
What he finds along the way is a mix of funny and frightening as he mingles with fellow travelers, while also avoiding being completely eaten by giant monsters on more than one occasion.
Michael Matthews‘ Love and Monsters is the perfect movie for 2020. It highlights a chaotic end-of-the-world scenario in a humorous fashion (giant bugs…really?!), yet it packs an emotional punch as Joel reflects on past relationships, while creating new ones along the way. This film is very much about self-discovery and believing in the good, all while mostly keeping a positive outlook on life.
This is something rarely found in post-apocalyptic films.
There’s still plenty of action and adventure as Joel discovers new locations and continues his journey into the unknown, yet the film isn’t afraid to stop and spend some time with its enjoyable characters.
Dylan O’Brien‘s Joel is an energetic and optimistic wimp turned into a less wimpier version of himself. He doesn’t go from sheltered homebody to hero over the course of the film’s seven day structure, but he does make believable progress that feel natural and earned.
Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt pop up in the film during the middle chunk and give Joel a few life lessons, which allows the film to slowly mold into a story about love, but not just between you and your teenage crush. It creates a beautiful sense of understanding that makes Joel humble and strong in ways that most films wouldn’t even bother exploring.
Hats off to writers Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson for writing such an energetic and fun flick. Love and Monsters could have easily tipped the scales into child territory or gritty adult territory and instead the film splits the difference and lands somewhere in between.
Michael Matthews‘ direction keeps the film feeling light and constantly moving forward, yet isn’t afraid to dive into the emotional moments when the time calls for it.
Speaking of which, early on in the film, Joel is introduced to a dog simply named Boy and watching O’Brien’s character interact and essentially co-star in the film with this dog is amazing. The bond created is authentic and powerful and made for a truly special relationship between the two.
Love and Monsters reminded me a lot of Jonathan Levine‘s Warm Bodies in the sense that it is able to take a somewhat tired and known genre and turn it over on itself. This movie could’ve stalled where most end-of-the-world films do and it could have also been very bleak and downright depressing, especially in this day and age. But instead, Love and Monsters reinvigorates the genre and gives us something a little different — much like Warm Bodies and its spin on the perfect zombie flick.
I thoroughly enjoyed Love and Monsters — far more than I ever thought was possible after having read the synopsis and watched the trailer. It’s charming and clever, yet action-heavy and emotionally charged. It will have you laughing one minute and then joining in on the suspense the next, all while never losing focus on the characters.
Love and Monsters is more than worth the price of a PVOD rental/purchase. It’s worth every penny and a film that I see myself revisiting soon and often.