Love and Monsters offers a refreshing take on the tired apocalypse genre. It's a heartfelt, surprisingly funny adventure with a charming lead performance from Dylan O'Brien. This time around it's the "Monsterpocalypse" and our hero isn't an ass-kicking killer. What begins as a quest for a lost girlfriend becomes a transformative experience about being human. Love and Monsters reminds us that a little courage and empathy goes a long way in a world gone to hell. It may be the best date movie of the current coronavirus pandemic.
Love and Monsters is set seven years after an asteroid threatened to destroy the planet. Humanity blew the space rock to pieces with a nuclear missile barrage, but suffered an unforeseen consequence. The radioactive fallout, combined with the asteroid debris, caused cold-blooded animals to mutate into terrifying creatures. They decimated mankind and forced the survivors into scattered colonies.
Dylan O'Brien stars as Joel Dawson. Sixteen at the time of the attack, he was rescued by strangers and brought to an underground bunker. Unfortunately for Joel, everyone in the bunker found a partner. Then started shagging to pass the time. It also didn't help that Joel was particularly ill-suited to fight the monsters. He became the bunker's cook, and caretaker for their milk cow. Everything changes when Joel makes radio contact with his former girlfriend, Amy (Jessica Henwick). She survived, but lives in a colony eighty miles away on the California coast. Joel decides to leave his friends and the safety of the bunker to pursue his lost love.
The first thing that grabs you is Joel's personality and awful, yet humorous predicament. He's a nice guy, well-liked, but doesn't contribute much to the actual safety of the bunker. The scenes of Joel lying in bed with everyone copulating around him are hilarious. His decision to leave raises significant concern from his bunker buddies. He wouldn't last a day on the surface. Joel's journey forces him to grow and meet the challenges of the "Monsterpocalypse." He gains valuable allies, faces deadly critters, and arrives at a much different situation than expected.
Love and Monsters is not a bloody gore fest. The special effects and action scenes are quite entertaining, but not loaded with unnecessary carnage. Joel heeds the advice of his friends. Running and hiding are the best options in most situations. He learns to fight, but realizes that killing is not always the best way. There's complexity and nuance to his character. The supporting ensemble cast, including an awesome dog and a robot, nearly steal the show. They're well-written and lay the groundwork for possible sequels in this universe.
The best aspect of Love and Monsters is the unknown. It nails the romance, adventure, and sci-fi elements without being predictable or saccharine. Joel's odyssey has a few twists and turns. Love and Monsters doesn't give all the answers, so you're left wanting more. Dylan O'Brien has a knack for choosing interesting projects. He continues that brilliant streak here. Love and Monsters is a production of 21 Laps Entertainment, MTV Films, and Entertainment One. It will have a limited theatrical release and premium video-on-demand from Paramount Pictures on October 16th.