The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. Love and Monsters in hindsight is another movie set after an apocalypse but it has much more going for it. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to review it. Not sure why but I wasn’t like immediately jumping at the opportunity. So… I watched it again and now here we are. What shall we do now? Well, we shall gush and lust and then share the love for a man’s best friend – a dog!
Initially called Monster Problems, Love and Monsters tells a story of a young man Joel (Dylan O’Brien) after mutated bugs and previously tiny animals took over the world (an asteroid was involved). Not sure the extent of the mutated creatures but basically, if you had a fear of a certain bug, there is a high probability of it being a lot bigger than you in Love and Monsters. So Joel was a teenager when humanity had to move underground. He gets separated from his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) but promises to find her. As he does, seven years later thanks to a radio.
Therefore he soon embarks on a mission – he has to get to Aimee. It’s a seven day trip from his bunker to hers. The twist of it all? He has a freezing problem aka when he sees a monster, he just stares at it and doesn’t do anything. Poor baby. On his way he meets two survivors (Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt) who are way more experienced than him. Plus, he meets his new best friend – a dog named Boy.
Dylan baby, I love you. I just wanted to put that out there because while this movie has a lot of stuff going for it, Dylan basically carries it. But there is also a dog, and that dog is literally the hero here! Yes, Dylan is great but it’s hard to compete with an amazing dog!! There were multiple dogs playing Boy but the main one was Hero. He according to the dog trainer loved Dylan! The dog trainer also mentioned in one of the behind the scenes videos that she has never seen a stronger bond between Hero and an actor. That’s wholesomeness for you.
But I want to continue to praise Dylan here because his Joel reminded me of Stiles in Teen Wolf. Dylan’s breakout role where he had so much comedic brilliance but also physical action stuff here and there. I loved him as Stiles and I’ve followed Dylan’s career ever since. In Love and Monsters he gets to go back to being Stiles a little. Which I feel like is very much Dylan himself. He is funny, he is not cocky or too egoistic, he is a bit nerdy but not too much. Joel is simply sweet and yet hot at the same time. Perfect balance of a lot of things.
Love and Monsters at its core is an adventure movie with big ass monsters. But it’s also a coming of age story. We see Joel go from this worried, fearful man into a much more confident person. There is a lot of logic behind his character too. The reasoning behind his fears and also his need to hold on to the past. With the movie focusing so much on Joel and following his journey, there’s nothing that feels out of place or unnecessary. There’s a lot of emotion here too and whenever Joel is afraid here, you are afraid too. Dylan just captures those moments so well.
Visually Love and Monsters is nothing revolutionary. CGI here is good on the monsters, there aren’t a lot of them but they range from big bad insects to floating jellyfish which is just enough. The movie trailer did give a lot away but honestly, I was still scared as fuck during that scene where Joel protects Boy. It’s one of the strongest scenes in the movie.
The final act of the movie is a little weaker. I feel like the tension in that Joel/Boy scenes was a bit higher than the “final battle” scene but also, I don’t care. That final bit was still a learning moment and something that made you question things. And in a good way.
All in all, Love and Monsters is a great movie. It’s refreshing and comforting, it adds a new twist to the post-apocalypse genre and does it with great care. Plus, it’s a very great movie to highlight Dylan O’Brien as a leading man. He is wonderful here! You root for him from the very beginning and you will always have his back. And not just because Boy trusts him but because you can tell Joel (just like Dylan himself) is a good guy!
PS: Love and Monsters would have been a fun adventure in the cinemas, I think it would have had a very good word-of-mouth box office. So if you’ve seen it and liked it, spread the word.2