Following numerous delays due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Love and Monsters has finally hit Netflix in the UK. Originally released back in October 2020 in the US by Paramount Pictures, eager fans have had a long wait for the post-apocalyptic flick to make it’s way over the pond.
Directed by Michael Matthews, Love and Monsters chronicles the aftermath of destroyed asteroid which was headed to earth, but coincidentally the chemical fallout caused a mutation in cold-blooded animals, who in turn killed off most of humanity. Seven years have passed, and the remaining human population live in groups in underground bunkers called “colonies”, only venturing to the surface for scavenging parties. Joel (Dylan O’Brien) is the only single person in his colony, and after a giant ant breaches their bunker and kills one of the survivors, he sets off on an 85-mile trip to reunite with his girlfriend Aimee.
After waiting months to see this, I was thankfully pleasantly surprised by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson quirky and clever script. This family-friendly ‘monsterpocalypse’ definitely doesn’t take itself as seriously as other dystopian flicks – it’s a refreshingly fun and imaginative film. There’s a clever genre-mash woven throughout, as distinct sci-fi elements are paired with entertaining action-adventure sequences, bundled into a coming-of-age narrative. The world building is also impressive, resulting in a bit more of a realistic end of the world scenario – I know I’d certainly be as clumsy and out-of-depth as Joel! Along with the Zombieland-esque action, there’s also a surprising amount of emotional depth, as Duffield and Robinson emphasis the timely importance of human connections.
The Maze Runner‘s Dylan O’Brien brings a real charm and endearing bumbling nature to Joel, handling the action sequences and fight scenes with effortless ease. However his canine sidekick Boy steals pretty much every scene he’s in, and is honestly one of the cutest and intelligent dogs I’ve seen on film! Along with Boy, Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt’s oddball survival duo are a real highlight, adding extra humour and heart with their tough love approach to helping Joel. Jessica Henwick, star of Marvel’s martial art series Iron Fist, brings her impressive fight skills to an extended action sequence – proving she’s much more than just your usual love interest. Also as a secret fan of Australian soap Home and Away when I was younger, it’s great to see Dan Ewing in a major film role.
Another outstanding aspect of the film is the amazing creature designs and the brilliant visual effects which bring them to life – created by Mr. X Adelaide and Bangalore, with practical work from MillFilm. There’s a whole gallery of varied creatures including the terrifying Queen Sand-Gobbler, the surprisingly empathetic HellCrab, a giant toad and a serene snail. The designer and VFX team wonderfully pair realistic elements such as movements and distinctive notable features with an exaggerated scale, resulting in a deserved Visual Effects Oscar nomination. Due to the amount of monsters Joel and co encounter along the journey, there’s also plenty of great stunts, action sequences and fight choreography involved, which keep you gripped throughout. Filmed on location in Queensland, northeast Australia, also adds to the real action-adventure vibe, proving a really beautiful and authentic backdrop.
Featuring a hugely likeable cast, plenty of action-adventure sequences and brilliant creature designs, Love and Monsters is a real fun flick for the whole family and definitely worth your time.