Post-apocalyptic films are big right now. While we wait A quiet place part II To land in April next year, Love and Monsters offers a similar premise set in a ruined world overrun by creatures with a penchant for human flesh.
But thanks to the goofy charm of Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien and his equally charismatic canine co-star, there’s sweetness that comes with the PG-rated horrors. Throw you in a shade of Zombieland End-of-world banter and you could do worse than giving your video-on-demand dollar to this road movie. (Originally slated for a theatrical release, Love and Monsters will be released digitally on October 16.)
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O’Brien plays Joel, who quickly informs us about the state of the world: Seven years ago humans blew up an earth-threatening asteroid with rockets and turned warty amphibians into less than fantastic beasts.
But that’s old news: now Joel lives in an underground bunker in one of the last human colonies. Unlike his colleagues, he’s the only one who hasn’t come to terms with someone who is still alive and single.
In between he muffles his ears from the thin walls and covers his girlfriend before the apocalypse: Aimee, played by Jessica Henwick from Iron Fist. In her marginal screen time, Henwick can eventually demonstrate the martial arts skills for which she is known. But getting a personality out of their paper-thin love interest material is a difficult challenge.
Can’t stand being a singleton any longer, Joel embarks on an 80-mile journey across the monster-haunted surface to reunite with Aimee. No matter that they saw each other last time, um seven years in front.
But nothing stops him, no snails imitating huge boulders, “sand eaters” or drooling praying mantises who have part-time jobs at Doctor Who. When Joel meets Boy, a dog who refuses to peel his jaw from the red dress his beloved owner left behind, we go in search of the Wilderpeople with some of the best heartfelt friendship destinations for humans- Animal friendship.
“We feel like this legendary duo,” says Joel in a voice-over.
At first, it’s hard to believe that O’Brien, who also starred in the Maze Runner series, is a nerd someone actually describes as “little”. But at one point he gives off a scratchy, heroic hiccup vibe from How to Train Your Dragon, including the realization that not all monsters are what they seem.
Speaking of influences, the script was originally referred to as “Zombie Land with a John Hughes-like love story at its center” and leads Joel to Michael Rooker’s veteran hunter Clyde, who looks like Woody Harrelson and occasionally produces the fat eyes, aka zombie torturer Tallahassee in Zombie Land .
He even lists his rules or “lessons” for survival: “Lesson 10: Keep Your Socks Dry.” His buddy Minnow, played by a game Ariana Greenblatt, is part-Wichita, part-hit-girl from Kick-Ass. Elsewhere, The Walking Dead makes a cameo in the “People Can Be Threats” section.
The whole trip feels like driving a rusted car, jerking forward, and then stopping while fixing it with shiny parts lying around. Joel even meets again with MAV1S, an artificially intelligent robot friend on her last battery juice, apparently for no reason to charge his radio and add another pop song to the soundtrack.
Every little bit of love and monsters is made up, but this beast has a cute and sturdy center in O’Brien. You won’t fall in love with her, but neither will it put you off.
Love and Monsters will be released on October 16 on digital platforms like Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, FandangoNow, Google Play and others.
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