Spoilers will try to be real quiet.
There’s a fine line that divides the sub-genres of post-apocalyptic and dystopian movies for me. Dystopian worlds still hit a little too close to home, but for some reason post-apocalyptic scenarios can still bring out the couch survivalist theorist in me. It’s always fiction, and happy endings are around the corner. I find I can still enjoy the comedy when they’re not taking themselves too seriously. I know we cannot ignore the numerous reminders to be careful out there, but at least let me enjoy the freedom inside a careless fantasy.
Love and Monsters (2020) was directed by Michael Matthews. The screenplay was written by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson, based on a story by Brian Duffield. After the governments of Earth combine their missiles to destroy and oncoming meteor, radioactive waste falls to the earth causing insect life to mutate into giant monsters. The remains of humankind have migrated to live underground in isolated colonies. One such survivor is Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) who is still pining for his high school girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) after seven years. As a member of his colony, Joel is only known as the cook and the radio operator, but at least he’s managed to locate Aimee leading a colony 85 miles away.
Yes, it has a voiceover from Joel. We know we’re in for an underdog movie. Joel will eventually decide to leave his comfy nest for the surface to travel all the way to Aimee, and we know it’s not going to be rainbows and candy. It’s an underdog, survivalist comedy with a hero’s quest approach. In the way Joel will gain a valuable ally in Boy, a dog who’s lost his owner. He will also learn valuable lessons from two surface survivors and badasses named Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt). He will also walk into traps, run into big monsters and get very close to being eaten several times.
The fun part here is mostly seeing Joel carelessly walk into danger, but eventually come out on top. He never does this in a way that feels granted. Luck is on his side whenever he gets a helping hand, but as he learns the basics he will be put into more danger and eventually go from fighting for his own life to having to help others. As much as he endears himself to the audience, we also want to slap him for whenever he takes brash decisions or when he leaves Clyde and Minnow to pursuit his ideal of Aimee.
Aimee, thank heavens, is not necessarily your damsel in distress. She leads her colony and she knows how to hold her own in a fight. But obviously, we knew that she’s not the same girl that Joel knew. Fortunately Joel has gone through his own growing pains, because there’s travel ahead with Cap (Dan Ewing), a yacht boat captain that might have ulterior motives. It should surprise nobody that the worst danger are not monsters but other survivors.
It just works as a fun action comedy where death and dismemberment are one second away. We know that Joel could easily get eaten and that he most probably won’t, but it does seem he’s got his head a little too much in the clouds to survive here. The monsters are rather well done in CGI with designs that are more cartoonish than horror-inspired. The film wisely opts to keep them hidden just until it needs to bring them out. The plot doesn’t have any particularly shocking surprises, but at least they give Aimee her chance to shine and the film doesn’t seem to have the need to necessarily pair everyone up in the end.
Highly recommended for most audiences. It’s not anything new that you haven’t seen before, but I like that the comedy is more incidental and the characters are engaging. At no point does it unnecessarily strain itself to bring out comedy or drama. It also never tries to preach or spout any morals to you. It does tell you to get outside and breathe some fresh air, which I still find it’s a good thing to do. It might be even a little too naively optimistic, but sometimes you just need to hear it.
That will do for now.