Review: Love and Monsters (2020)

An asteroid headed towards Earth is destroyed by the superpowers of the world, saving the planet. Unfortunately, a chemical released from it causes all of the cold-blooded animals to mutate into giant monsters that kill off most of humankind. Those that survive live in underground bunkers called colonies and quarters and tight and life is tough. It’s even tougher when you are the only single guy among everyone else who has paired up around you. Such is the life of Joel (Dylan O’Brien).

Of course he wasn’t always alone. Seven years ago, before the monsters arrived, he had a girlfriend named Aimee (Jessica Henwick) and they were in love. However they got separated during evacuation and his parents were killed in the process. Then he ended up in the bunker where he makes a mean minestrone and freezes in the face of danger. Through hard work, he managed to find the colony where Aimee ended up on the radio and talks to her at night, but it’s long distance and barely a relationship. When a giant ant breaches the colony and kills one of his friends before it is taken out, Joel realizes he doesn’t want to be alone and sets out up to the surface to go and find Aimee.

Adventure ensues.

The surface is dangerous and filled with a variety of things that want to kill and eat him. However, Joel manages to survive as well as make some new friends like his dog Boy and two travelers named Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt). Together they make their way towards Aimee’s colony and Joel learns about surviving in the brave new world and a bit about himself in the process while finding off monsters of all shapes and sizes.

One of the things I love about this movie is how much I can relate to Joel. With a similar artistic inclination, I can imagine I would be in the same boat, not being one of the brave and bold survivors but more one of the quieter cogs that keeps things moving. Joel isn’t someone with a special skill that gives him an edge on the surface or a hero just waiting for his moment. He’s just an average guy trying to find a place in a world that has been turned upside down and realizes he can’t live his entire life in a bunker. Instead of being a typical action hero, Joel’s greatest strength is listening to what he is told and paying attention to the things around him. This detail more than anything else helps him survive more than being able to kill any monster would.

The cast is solid. O’Brien is affable and likable as Joel without being too much of a schlub. Henwick feels like she should have gotten more time but does well with what she is allotted and has great chemistry with her costar. My favorite surprise having not seen much in the way of trailers for the film is Michael Rooker. He’s always a treat and here as a gruff survivalist he oozes with that rough charm we know and love.

LOVE AND MONSTERS is a charming post-apocalyptic adventure that exchanges the usual desert wastelands for the lush greenery of an overgrown California of the future. The creatures are monstrous, but nothing too horrifying for younger viewers, which makes it a good gateway for those wanting to introduce their kids to horror. Fun horror/sci-fi rom-coms that are good aren’t too common so it is always a pleasure to see one that hits all the right notes like this one does.

Check it out.

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