Love and Monsters

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Dylan O'Brien in Love and Monsters.
Dylan O'Brien in Love and Monsters.
Photo: Jasin Boland/Netflix


Love and Monsters




4/5 Stars


Seven years after the Monsterpocalypse, all of humanity has been forced to live in underground colonies. When Joel Dawson (Dylan O’Brien) reconnects over the radio with his high school girlfriend Aimee, who has been living on the coast 85 miles away, he begins to fall for her again. Joel realises that there's nothing left for him underground, and despite all the danger that stands in his way, he decides he must venture out to find his true love.


I love seeing Dylan O'Brien fighting monsters and living through the apocalypse. From Teen Wolf to the Maze Runner films, there's just something so charming about this little scamp making it out alive every single time with nothing but his quirky sense of humour and crafty survival skills. Give him a love interest he's willing to go to the ends of the earth for, and you've got me – Love and Monsters was everything I hoped it would be.

The film, which is now available on Netflix, sees Joel Dawson (Dylan O'Brien) travel from his colony to his high school girlfriend's camp on the surface after living underground for seven years following the monsterpocalypse that resulted in giant creatures taking over the land. I'm talking mammoth snails and queen sand-gobblers. While I realise how silly that sounds, the visual effects, for which the film has been nominated for an Academy Award, made it pretty damn terrifying, often beautiful. There's a glowing scene where jellyfish-like creatures light up the sky set to Ben E King's Stand by Me that you just have to see! But Joel sort of makes light of how bizarre it all sounds from the get-go.

"Agatha 616, yup, an asteroid, heading straight for earth. I know, so obvious. So humanity came together, and we did what we do best: we shot a bunch of rockets at it! And we blew it up! And it was great... but it wasn't," he says in a monologue at the start of the film, explaining how creatures "mutated and started eating us to death".

In the same way that horror or adventure comedies like Zombieland are very much aware of the merging of their genres, so too is Love and Monsters; if you watch it expecting anything but that, you'll be disappointed. But it's an entertaining film when you let yourself get into it – and you'll see it's surprisingly about more than just love and monsters.

Of course, Dylan O'Brien was perfectly cast as Joel; he makes the switch between his comedic and dramatic scenes look seamless. I mean the range of this YouTube star turned actor, and his scenes with Boy, a dog, and later, companion, who saves him from a froggy-mess – my heart! Special mention must also be made of young Ariana Greenblatt's performance as Minnow, an eight-year-old survival expert Joel meets on his journey along with a savvy but soft Clyde Dutton (Michael Rooker); both stars, along with O'Brien, brought a tenderness to the story you don't usually see in these kinds of films.

With that, I want to mention; while the creatures can get pretty scary, this isn't a hardcore movie like the Zombieland films. Sure, there's love and monsters, but there are universal themes of longing and loss and finding yourself again. Minus all the blood and gore, it's a really good family movie that you'll be glad you'd seen, particularly in this here day and age.

As a fan of Dylan O'Brien, I waited a while for Love and Monsters after Paramount Pictures announced a theatrical release, only to push it back several times due to Covid-19, before releasing it via video on demand and finally selling the international rights to Netflix. This fun, imaginative and tender monster movie did not disappoint, though. And I know we're still in the middle of a pandemic, but this is a story about the world ending you'll want to see.


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