‘Love and Monsters’ Review: A Satisfying Monster Apocalypse

One of the Oscar nominees in this year’s visual effects category, Love and Monsters, is a post-apocalyptic monster-filled adventure movie directed by Michael Matthews (Five Fingers for Marseilles). It stars Dylan O’Brien (The Maze Runner) in an end-time adventure— as a young man who believes love conquers all, even when monsters are involved. For seven years, giant-killing monsters held the rest of mankind hostage, killed 95% of the population and made survivors live in underground bunkers that are referred to as Colonies. Their creation was a result of an attempt to blow up an approaching asteroid. Missiles were launched, but fragments from the particles rained down some form of chemicals which turned the lower food chain organisms into deadly hunters. In this new world, the roles are reversed in the ecosystem and the hunter becomes the hunted. Seventeen-year old Joel Dawson was with his girlfriend when the calamity struck and the young teen was forced to witness his parents’ death. Seven years after this catastrophe, Joel reconnects with his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), via  radio signals and finds out that her colony is 85 miles (7days) away from his colony. 

The scaredy cat, Joel, and his companion, Boy
Image via Paramount Pictures

Joel is the black sheep in his colony, the scaredy cat; he stays back at the colony while others go to scavenge for food. His rare ability of freezing in the face of danger makes his other group members leave him in charge of milking the cows, fixing the radio and cooking. However, the discovery of the love of his life changes things for him and he decides to embark on this perilous journey to reconnect with his long-time sweetheart. His group members know that his chances at survival are zero, so they give him a stern warning, “don’t fight, just run and hide”. Joel embarks on this suicide mission with his drawing book, a crossbow, a handrawn map, and a backpack. Death did not come knocking on Joel’s door, he went to look for death. During Joel’s precarious journey on the surface, he teams up with a lonely dog named Boy and encounters an old man, Clyde (Michael Rooker) and his sidekick, Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt). 

An analogous movie to Love and Monsters which also occurs in a post-apocalyptic period is I Am Legend and it also involves the duo of a human and a canine, in person of Dr. Robert (Will Smith) and a dog, Sam— just like Joel and Boy. Love and Monsters is an engaging movie, and the visual effects are enough to sustain viewers’ attention. The movie is a definition of a suicide mission born out of love which results into a coming-of-age, or what is known as Bildungsroman in literature. The self-discovery journey turned out to be one of the best decisions that the scaredy cat Joel had ever made in his life. The art poured into this movie was quite a treat. Despite the theme of love presented in the movie, it did not necessarily point all of it at Aimee but to the bond Joel had with Boy and the two wanderers, Clyde and Minnow. 

Minnow and Clyde in Love and Monsters
Image via Paramount Pictures

During this visually-pleasing adventure on the surface, Joel faces a huge frog (the size of a trailer), a monster-killing centipede, among other deadly creatures. The director made a good creative decision of not forcing many ugly looking monsters down viewers’ throats. For a movie of this genre, which even the title denotes, one would expect loads of monsters on screen but the few that were shown effectively conveyed the severity of the life-threatening monsters. Monster movies are usually problematic to direct but Love and Monsters finds the right balance in each of the themes presented; friendship, love, coming-of-age and of course that not all monsters are bloodthirsty. Neither the monsters nor the mushy love is allowed to deter viewers from the main story. 

Image via Paramount Pictures

Consequently, each danger and monster that Joel faces, is a giant leap for him to get over his fears. The little screen time given to Minnow and Clyde was rather disappointing but they did a good job nonetheless. People talk about how love can make humans do stupid things, and what could be more stupid and grand as facing countless dangers just to reunite with someone that you love? But did Joel get to meet the girl he once knew seven years ago and get all the hugs and kisses that the post-apocalyptic age deprived them of? Well, you’ll never know until you give this humorous adventure a try and trust me, you won’t regret it. The ending leaves a lot of hanging questions and a chance for a sequel that will be most welcomed. Despite coming after his Maze Runner accident, the outstanding performance from Dylan O’Brien (with his Teen Wolf humour) and the flick of action sequence in Love and Monsters make it an enjoyable ride. Thus, creating an adventure flick that makes a great addition to our list of post-apocalyptic movies.

Rating: 7/10

Side Musings

  • The moment where Joel threw a grenade at a Queen Sand Gobbler and he was like  “I feel like Tom Cruise” after running like a mad man for his life.
  • The visuals employed to depict how nature has taken back its rightful place.
  • Love isn’t worth the risk, I guess I’ve found a movie that correlates with my ideal😁.

Love and Monsters is currently streaming on Netflix.

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