What is the story about?
After an apocalypse wipes out most ofthe planet's population, Joel, a young boy, takes refuge in an underground bunker with a group of survivors. With giant, dangerous insects roaming on the surface, Joel feels stuck there. Seven years after the apocalypse, Joel makes contact with Aimee, a girl he nursed a crush on. Risking his life, Joel decides to set out on a perilous journey outside the bunker and be reunited with Aimee. The rest of the story is about whether Joel succeeds in this endeavour or not.
There are times while watching Love and Monsters where you feel as if you're watching a movie designed for the pandemic. It's hard to believe how this movie, shot way before COVID-19 struck the world, manages to speak to contemporary realities, but that is the genius of Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson's wacky, heartfelt screenplay. This is a dizzying, often unwieldy mashup of teen dramedy and apocaylptic drama, which makes it impossible to slot into any one genre, but the way it switches between both modes effortlessly is terrific. When you think about it, all the standard trappings of both genres are there, but the way the writers and director Michael Matthews constantly play around with these tropes and subvert them to ridiculous levels is applause-worthy. Multiple themes are explored, even as the narrative progresses: the sexual frustration of teenagers, past trauma, uncertainty about the future, fear of the unknown and so on. Yet, even in a movie that clocks under two hours, all these themes are explored in the break-neck narrative, and the makers also borrow ideas from various movies, such as Avatar and Zombieland. This is a fun watch, and it's impossible not to be terrified, emotionally overwhelmed and hopeful about the future at the same time.
Dylan O'Brien is immensely likable and earnest as Joel. This film is basically Joel's coming-of-age story, so O'Brien's steady transformation is something to watch out for. Jessica Henwick is decent as Aimee. Michael Rooker and Ariana Greenblatt are terrific as Clyde and Minnow, a pair of survivors who come across Joel on his journey and teach him survival skills. Dan Ewing is suitably evil as the food pirate Cap.
Music & Other Departments
Lachlan Milne's cinematography is decent, but it is Dan Hennah's production design that really supports this crazy tale.
The opening sequences, where Joel narrates the state of the world and the bunker via voiceover, is both hilarious and heartfelt. Also, the Clyde and Minnow portions are so good that Netflix can seriously consider a spinoff on these two characters.
The screenplay slightly dips in energy before the climax.
Did I enjoy it?
Yes. I had a grin plastered on my face throughout most of the film.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. This teen apocalypse dramedy is definitely worth your time.