I saw the trailer for Love and Monsters just about a week before it came out, but I was instantly on board the second I got the opportunity to watch. A post-apocalyptic adventure romp with Dylan O’Brien? Sign me up. The movie was released through various streaming sites (RIP movie theaters) for about 20 dollars to rent (I watched it on Amazon Prime Video). These high costs are supposed to represent what the average movie-goer would have spent for tickets, but still, it is a sizable amount. However, I’m here to convince you that it’s worth it.
Love and Monsters follows Joel, a young man living with a group of survivors seven years into the end of the world. Shortly after the series begins, Joel makes contact with Aimee, his girlfriend from before the whole global catastrophe. Joel then decides to make the seven day, 80-mile trek over the dangerous surface in order to reunite with his romantic interest at her colony. The thing is, Joel kind of (really) sucks at this whole “surviving the apocalypse” thing.
Love and Monsters is not a heavy film, and that’s what I love about it. For the most part, the film is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s fun, interesting, and quick. It’s lighthearted, but manages to portray the grief and trauma associated with death in a real, meaningful way. Joel is dealing with a freezing problem, which stems from watching his parents get killed right in front of him on D-Day. Nearly every single character has lost at least one loved one to the apocalypse. But this grief creates even stronger bonds between characters, which makes the movie even more enjoyable to watch.
Speaking of humor, Dylan O’Brian carries this movie on his back. His superb comedic timing, which has been evident since Teen Wolf, truly shines in this movie. Not only that, but his acting chops only continue to improve. O’Brien’s character is alone for the majority of the film, but O’Brien makes those scenes the most interesting of the movie. Now, when I say alone, I really mean he has the company of a very loyal dog, who is truly the breakout star of Monsters. But, when O’Brien is not accompanied by a canine or a robot or a mutated monster-frog, he also has the company of some very compelling side characters. A not quite father-daughter duo of Clyde, an expert hunter played by Guardians of the Galaxy’s Michael Rooker, and the tough-talking Minnow, played by Ariana Greenblatt, fill the mentor role as they travel with Joel for a few days. They teach Joel several lessons about surviving in this new world, including the idea that not all monsters are bad.
Love and Monsters is an instant comfort film, surprisingly heartwarming and harrowing at the same time. I have to mention the soundtrack, because it’s great, so kudos to Marco Beltrami and Marcus Trumpp for their work. At many points, I laughed out loud, something I usually do at movies and not with them. But with a 91% Rotten Tomatoes rating, the audience consensus seems to be the same as mine. This movie is perfect escapism from what feels like our own current apocalypse, and the movie’s final sequence is hope and determination in a bottle. In conclusion, Love and Monsters is a gem in a dark time, Dylan O’Brien is delightfully charming and I’m free on Thursday night if he is, and I want that dog.