'Love and Monsters' Offers Post-Apocalyptic Escapism Directed by Michael Matthews

Starring Dylan O'Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt, Dan Ewing
'Love and Monsters' Offers Post-Apocalyptic Escapism Directed by Michael Matthews
Post-apocalyptic fiction has taken on new resonance during lockdown, but there's something wonderfully un-topical about Love and Monsters' vision of a dystopian future in which humanity is newly wiped out by super-sized monsters. A brief animated intro explains that the world was about to be hit by an asteroid that humans destroyed with an asteroid, resulting in a chemical fallout that mutated bugs and cold-blooded animals, tuning them into enormous monsters. After that, we're off to the races.

Seven years since the "monsterpocalypse," Joel (Dylan O'Brien) is living at an underground colony in a bunker. He's not much of a fighter, acting mostly as a cook in a colony where everyone else is coupled up and the hopelessly single Joel pines for his before-times girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick). He makes contact with Aimee by radio, and even though she's seven days' walk away, Joel decides to ditch his colony and hike through the monster-infested wilderness.

With the ironically cheery voiceovers and post-apocalyptic romance, Love and Monsters bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Zombieland. Even the secondary characters are borrowed straight outta Zombieland: Clyde (Michael Rooker) is just a less sassy Woody Harrelson, and his young companion Minnow (Ariana Gleenblatt) is in the Abigail Breslin role. Even the survival "lessons" from Love and Monsters are clearly borrowed from Zombieland's "rules."

O'Brien is best known as the star of The Hunger Games, and Love and Monsters has some of that film's YA innocence. Despite its post-apocalyptic setting and many monster battles, it's not very gory or even the slightest bit raunchy. There are no scares, and the slightly blurry CGI leaves a little to be desired.

But even if Love and Monsters is a little too similar to better films, O'Brien is a charming lead. Even though Aimee spends most of the film as a voice on the other side of the radio, O'Brien manages to carry the romance one-sided. Aimee doesn't have much personality, but Joel has tons of chemistry with his cute pup Boy. It's a fun, easy-to-watch bit of a post-apocalyptic escapism.

Love and Monsters is streaming on Netflix. (eOne)