Love and Monsters (Michael Matthews, 2020) is the latest teen-targeted post-apocalyptic fare. I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t we done with that? Wasn’t the death of the Divergent franchise the nail in the coffin for the YA-focused movement? And I’ll be honest. I thought we were kind of done with it. I haven’t seen one that’s been really great in a bit. But, here we are. And once again, Dylan O’Brien (Teen Wolf, The Maze Runner series, American Assassin) is here to take us on a new post-apocalyptic journey.
I was actually a fan of all three of Wes Ball’s Maze Runner trilogy films, so I knew going in that O’Brien was more than capable of holding his own with this material. It turns out that by adding comedy and fun CGI-monster designs to the mix, we are treated to a film that takes a step beyond the popular YA trilogy. O’Brien’s Joel is your typical awkward and unsure twenty-something protagonist here, cooling off his intensity from the Maze Runner films. This is definitely the key to the success of this film. Joel is just such a likable protagonist. We are always rooting for him and we see him develop throughout the narrative of the film.
The film starts with the destruction of 90% of the population of Earth due to mutating creatures. Joel is living with his ragtag family of survivors, serving as the bunker’s cook. He is too nervous to go outside on any of their dangerous scavenging missions for food and he gets a reputation for not being the bravest person in the group. He is great at using the communications equipment though. We discover that he’s been communicating with Aimee (Jessica Henwick, Underwater, Iron Fist, and Game of Thrones), a girl that he had been dating prior to the end of the world. Once his bunker is breached by a monster, he decides to go out on his own and travel the 85 miles to her bunker to be with her.
The journey is one that will thoroughly test him and force him to prove that he is, in fact, capable and able to protect himself. Along the way, he meets Clyde (Michael Rooker, The Walking Dead, Mallrats, and Guardians of the Galaxy), young Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt, Avengers: Infinity War and Scoob), and a very good dog named Boy. His road is full of challenges, encounters with vicious monsters, and dangerous terrain.
Matthews has fused the perfect blend of comedy, action, and world building to create a film that is enjoyable but also heartfelt. It reminded me of the fun zombie-romance Warm Bodies (2013) in that regard. The monsters are threatening but not too terrifying for kids. Screenwriters Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson give us naturalistic dialogue and provide the characters with charm and wit alongside the weapons they wield.
Overall, this is just a really fun film that distracted me from the state of the world right now. Which, if it can do that, I think it deserves some decent praise. It works perfectly well on its own, but also has the potential to create a new franchise from this original and engaging world. If you’re looking for a film to watch on another night in because of Covid-19, look no further. It’s definitely worth the watch and is definitely much better than some of the other alternatives right now. Looking at you Hubie Halloween.
Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
Love and Monsters is currently showing in theatres that are open and is available to rent from Amazon, VUDU, Google Play, iTunes, and Fandango.
- Director: Michael Matthews
- Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt, and Dan Ewing.
- Rated PG-13 for Action/Violence, Language, and Some Suggestive Material.
- Running Time: 109 minutes.