It wasn’t war or disease that destroyed the world in ‘Love and Monsters’, but an asteroid. It is exploded before impact, saving Earth, but this causes chemical particle distribution that leads to insect and animal life mutating into monsters. After his family is killed, Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) finds shelter in a colony. But he’s lonely and separated from his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), becoming ever more determined to reunite with her. Thus, Joel leaves the underground bunker he has called home for seven years, and ventures out into the world, in the name of love.
Joel’s situation is deeply sympathetic, what with pretty much every member of his colony being coupled up, and no other family left alive. Early on, he walks in on a couple of his friends being intimate, an awkward yet in no way explicit moment, which probably would have been better off being excluded, since everything else in this movie would imply that it’s family friendly.
Its high concept plot is appealing and well-executed. In essence, a young man ventures out into the world in the throes of a kind-of-but-not-quite zombie apocalypse, makes some friends who teach him survivalist techniques (little Minnow and the Woody Harrelson-like Clyde, a pair that recall the ‘Last of Us’ protagonists), and makes his way to be reunited with his one true love (though there’s something of a twist here too…). It is a disaster movie, meets monster movie, meets romance mash-up, with each compromising their generic roots just slightly, to create a fresh piece of cinema.
What also makes the movie work for a younger audience is the fact that the world doesn’t seem all that dangerous. The monsters design are somewhat infantile, and not all of them are bad guys. It’s never overly heavy in tone, in spite of the fact that, you know, everyone’s dead (95% of the population died, we’re informed at the beginning). Plus Joel makes friends with an adorable dog named Boy, and they rescue one another in a winsome combination.
The present time doesn’t really feel fitting for apocalyptic movies, but ‘Love and Monsters’, as the former part of its title indicates, is full of warmth and silliness, its characters good, kind, determined and loyal people. That is, apart from a familiar face that pops up in the eleventh hour, whose presence provokes your obligatory final battle sequence, which in spite of being the most action-filled scene, is probably where the movie is at its most uninteresting. In any case, ‘Love and Monsters’ is far more enjoyable than one would expect it to be.
‘Love and Monsters’ is streaming on Netflix now.