Love and Monsters (2020): Finding Yourself in the Apocalypse

Love and Monsters (2020) - IMDb

“Love and Monsters” is a simple but really good post-apocalyptic film. What carries the film are the characters and their relationships and the fascinating nature of the world itself. It also is a complete story and I see no reason to make a sequel to this complete narrative, though more stories in the world might be fun.

The film was directed by Michael Matthews and written by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson.

The story takes place after an asteroid has been prevented from destroying Earth but the radiation from the weapons mutated the animals leading to humanity having to go underground. The story follows Joel (Dylan O’Brien) when he leaves his bunker to reach his ex-girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) who is 80 miles away.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Joel’s Survivors – In the first part of the story we learn about the survivors who Joel is living with. They are all warriors and romantically involved with one another with Joel as the outsider within that. He is still connected to them though as the cook and when he decides to go to Aimee’s bunker they support him in his quest. It is a great dynamic as they know his limitations and strengths and care for him regardless.

Boy – Boy is the first ally Joel meets above ground. He is a dog who lost his owner and carries around a red dress in memory of them. The dog is such a a great character and saves Joel multiple times. Boy is also dynamic too and isn’t perfect as at one point it’s connection to the dress almost leads to Joel’s death, though he does come back and save Joel at the end from a mutated crab.

Clyde and Minnow – Michael Rooker’s Clyde is my favorite character in the film. He is a survivor expert raising the orphan Minnow as together they head to the Mountains where there are less monsters. He teaches Joel the rules of survival and gives Joel a grenade that saves his life later. They have a great dynamic as they both mentor Joel, helping him come into his own as a survivor.

Aimee – Aimee is leader of her own colony who is largely elderly folks, which knowing this makes sense why she falls for the corrupt Captain who offers to help her colony. She demonstrates why she is leader though and helps defeat the Captain and his crew. We also learn she lost her lover at one point in the apocalypse and there is the suggestion that her and Joel as the changed people they are might be able to start it up again when all the survivors of humanity start heading to the mountains.

The Creatures – The creatures are cool. They are largely mutated bugs but you have a mutated crab, slug and frog show up as well. The creep factor is handled really well as well as how threatening some of them can be. In the end they are still animals though so the film makes a point of showing not all of them are hostile, which plays a point later in defeating the corrupt Captain.

Joel Finds Himself – This film is really about Joel finding himself as we see him face his trauma from watching his parents killed when the apocalypse first began and how he is unable to fight back until he goes above ground.

The Cons:

The Villains – The only real villains in the film are the Captain and his crew who plan to feed Aimee and her colony to the animal they’ve enslaved. We learn they are thieves too so there isn’t any complexity to them. This was a shame as the animals were shown to be complex so I wish the human villains could have been written that way too.

World Needs to be Fleshed Out More – What happened to the governments? We learn the bunkers are in touch with each other but there is no organization. I wish this had been explored a bit better given that armies were fighting the mutants in the beginning.

This was a really good film. The cast is small so we are able to fully see how the relationships develop and the mutants have such great designs. This is a world that feels lived in and the characters fully realized. Suffice to say, I definitely recommend checking this film out. The only things keeping it from being higher was the lack of politics explored and the one-dimensional villains.

Final Score: 8.8 / 10

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