Joel Dreams The Impossible Dream — ‘Love And Monsters’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

Horror films are never hard to come by in October. Those in need of some more family-friendly picks this year, though, should look no further than Michael MatthewsLove and Monsters. The film, which takes place during a monster apocalypse, stars Teen Wolf’s Dylan O’Brien and follows his character, Joel, as he decides to embark on a journey to find his girlfriend, Aimee (Jessica Henwick).

It’s been seven years since they last saw each other. Basically, there was an asteroid and, in trying to take the asteroid out, humanity caused a bunch of animals to mutate and turn into monsters. Frogs, cockroaches, snails, you name it – they’re all bigger and more indestructible than ever. A ton of people died (95% of the population) and those who survived formed colonies. Joel’s colony lives in a bunker underground, but until now he hasn’t been able to figure out which colony Aimee lives in.

There’s just one problem: the surface of the Earth is covered with monsters. One of his bunker-mates estimates it’ll take him at least a week to get to the colony where she lives and, with Joel’s bad habit of freezing in combat, his chances of making it there alive are slim. Joel’s a man with a quest – like Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha — and he won’t be dissuaded from taking the risk.

Having recently watched Hulu’s new anthology series Monsterland, where humans were revealed to be the real monsters, Love and Monsters is more of your classic “the monsters are the real monsters” film. Believing humans will do right by each other is far from the traditional view of apocalypse movies, though, and that, more than anything else, is what sets Love and Monsters apart from something like Monsterland.

Instead of an apocalypse where everyone looks out for themselves, Love and Monsters shows a world where Joel can be marked as prey by one of the monsters and the strangers he meets (Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt) invite him to tag along and camp with them. Joel’s an obvious liability here, yet he’s met with kindness instead of fear.

Is that wishful thinking on the part of screenwriters Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson? A cynic would say yes, but maybe the first step towards changing the world is expecting more from it — manifesting change until it actually happens. And so, instead of having to worry about whether you can trust other people, the monsters get to claim humanity’s full attention. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world. It’s a dog-comes-to-your-rescue-and-saves-your-life world (and how that dog was spared from being mutated is anyone’s guess; call it one of the perks of being man’s best friend).

Fans of O’Brien from his days playing Stiles Stilinski will know his physical comedy skills well. In terms of his film career, however, a lot of O’Brien’s recent projects have been dramas (the Maze Runner trilogy, American Terrorist) and it’s great to see him leading a comedy film. The Jeep appearing in the trailer had to be done deliberately. Someone knew Teen Wolf fans would respond, but hey, they weren’t wrong, and it’s not like it’s the right color. A few scenes of O’Brien in a Jeep are better than none.

Love and Monsters is available on VOD starting today from Paramount Pictures.

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