I could have sworn Love and Monsters was another Netflix original. I searched and searched to no avail, it wasn’t there. I was mistaken.
I think I know why I got it confused, because Netflix has an animated series called The Last Kids on Earth with almost the exact same plot.
Kid alone in a world of monsters, out searching for his high school crush… sound familiar?
It’s about this time every year I’m reminded that as much as I love horror movies and the idea of Horror Month, it hits me that the majority of the films I’m going to watch will end up being shit.
This year is no different, as I’ve been hitting a dead end with most of the horror movies I’ve been watching lately. They’ve ranged from bad to just painful.
I think the most annoying thing for me is the failed attempt at adding humor to your horror movies. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love horror comedy. When they work. Which is far and few between.
Most of the time they face plant, not delivering on either the horror or the comedy. Instead giving us a large dose of “the cringe”.
A few that I’ve seen for Horror Month that come to mind are Fear Pharm, Halloween Party and 12 Hour Shift. Both great examples of what not to do when writing horror.
I’ll get more into those films with my weekly wrap-up, so make sure to check those out, I release it every Saturday.
Right now, I want to talk about a film that to me, got all of the necessary elements right.
Love and Monsters was a shocking breath of fresh air. To make it simple, I absolutely loved it. The writing was reminding me a lot of Zombieland, mainly I guess because to the main character’s constant monologue.
Another film that came to mind was Warm Bodies. Thankfully, this is a much better film than that.
The monsters in this are spectacular. I loved every freakish design, ranging from mutated over sized bugs to mutated mashups of I don’t know what.
A film with monsters in the title you know they have to deliver and thankfully they did just that. I was actually very concerned about going into this movie. Mainly because the trailer wasn’t selling me. Again, Warm Bodies was the first thing that came to mind. Actually, I remember my first thought was is this based on some YA book series.
But people kept throwing the name Brian Duffield around. I knew the name sounded familiar but it didn’t hit me yet just where I heard the name.
I know it because the last few horror movies I’ve seen have been written by him. That being The Babysitter (not the sequel which could be why it sucks), Underwater(another film I was iffy about but ended up loving) and just recently Spontaneous, the romantic teen drama where kids explode.
Speaking of silly plots, the plot to Love and Monsters.
A giant asteroid is headed for Earth. And of course the best way to stop it from hitting us is to just shoot a bunch of nukes at it.
It successfully takes out the asteroid but the chemicals and radiation from the nukes mutated the world’s wildlife. Or maybe it’s just the insect life seeing as dogs and cows are unaffected.
So now the world is basically overrun but these Cloverfield-sized monsters, out to eat us.
Humanity has been forced to live underground in bunkers, some in colonies, others in home bunkers.
The hero of our story is Joel, but to be honestly there really isn’t anything special or heroic about him. When faced with danger he clams up and chokes, putting himself and others in danger.
Which is why his part to play in the bunker is to cook and clean. When danger strikes he hides out with the women and children.
Joel wants to be brave, but he can’t seem to muster up the courage.
The other issue in the bunker is the fact that everyone has paired up. Everyone has somebody but him. That’s not entirely true, as Joel does have a girl he used to know back before his town was wiped off the map but a massive bug.
Enter Aimee, a girlfriend he had to say bye to and hasn’t seen since living in a bunker.
After some searching, he did manage to track her bunker down, starting up a kind of long distance relationship separated by giant killer insects.
When a mutated ant finds its way into the bunker, resulting in another death, Joel has had it. He wants to leave the bunker and find Aimee’s bunker. He figures if he’s going to die, it might as well be with the one girl that got away.
Which is of course a terrible idea, seeing as Joel has zero experience with killing these things. But he is a man determined.
Joel sets out, and like what you’d expect instantly runs into danger.
Almost getting swallowed by a giant toad, A dog named Boy saves him.
Boy has been living alone for who knows how long in a bus his owner used as shelter. The only thing she left him with was a red dress, which he clings to like a safety blanket.
Reenacting A Boy and His Dog, Joel and Boy set off to travel the scary land of monsters. Of course shortly after they begin their adventure together, Joel falls into a giant worm hole. Well, less like a hole and more like a death pit.
Thankfully Michael Rooker shows up, playing Clyde, who let’s face it, might as well be Tallahassee from Zombieland.
Along with Minnow, Clyde’s adoptive daughter, they help get Joel out of the pit before he is eaten alive by these nasty worms.
He lets him know how lucky he is, seeing as these worms are just larva, the real danger comes from the queen.
Joel decides to tag along with these two as they seem like they know how to handle themselves.
They let Joel know something big also has his scent. I honestly hoped this would come into play later. However all it does is setup the knowledge that not all monsters are out to eat you, like the giant slug they stuff Joel’s shirt onto to scatter his scent.
Figuring Joel can’t survive long on his on, they help train him, so maybe he’ll have a fighting chance.
Minnow teaches him how to use the makeshift crossbow he took from the bunker before leaving.
Clyde on the other hand teaches him about the monsters and the best why to evade or kill them.
Joel has also been keeping a pretty handy dandy detailed guide on all the creatures he’s come across.
There are two rules of camping. You can eat or you can sleep. You can’t do both. The one rule Joel hates.
Eventually however it comes time for them to part ways, as Clyde and Minnow are headed to the mountains where it’s cold. They say it’s safer there, too cold for bugs.
But Joel has a mission that he must see through until the end.
So here is the thing about this setup for the plot. I’ve seen it countless times in films. It’s basically your average road trip flick. The problem with that is they usually go a specific way.
Guy travels to see girl, girl either ends up being not who he expected, or finds someone else along the way on his trip.
Because of Boy’s owner, I fully expected her to come back into the picture, looking for her dog and the two fall in love.
Because let’s face it, the whole Joel and Aimee thing isn’t going to work out. So like every other movie like this, I just assumed that’s how everything would pan out.
Thankfully it didn’t… mostly. But again, I’m getting ahead of myself slightly as there’s still some miles left for Joel to travel.
To test everything Joel has learned, he goes up against a massive centipede, that is ready to attack Boy. Without pissing himself, Joel takes it down with an arrow to the head.
He’s now officially a monster killer.
We do finally get a callback to the queen worm that was mentioned earlier. It’s basically this cross between a shark and the Final Fantasy monster Malboro.
But Boy is being a bit of a pain, blowing their cover when he rushes out to grab the red dress Joel dropped while fleeing.
He does manage to take out the queen, but must cross a stream, getting covered in poisonous leeches.
After scolding Boy, Joel passes out, waking up in Aimee’s colony bunker. Which is less a bunker and more like this fantastic ocean-side hippy resort.
The only people in this colony are old folks. But everyone seems excited because Cap and his crew have arrived, promising to take everyone to safe harbor.
And of course Cap is one handsome devil, that Aimee seems slightly smitten with.
All these years apart, she’s changed, she moved on with someone else at the colony who is dead now. Which kind of got me thinking some old dude since everyone there was in their late 60’s.
So like I predicted from the start, and how most of these stories go, the love connection is lost.
However, Joel still smells something fishy is up with this Cap guy. His stories don’t really add up. Not to mention he tried dosing him with a fruit Boy warned him about while on their travels.
The fruit is a psychotropic, getting everyone high off their asses, eventually passing out.
Turns out, Cap and his crew are no good food stealers. They’ve come to collect all their food and valuables, but if you thought they’d just leave peacefully, well you thought wrong.
To make their cruise ship move, they have attached a giant mutated crab to it, using electric shocks to control its behavior. It needs to eat too, so Cap offers up Aimee’s colony.
Aimee does manage to get free and it’s time for Joel to finally show off those impressive monster killing skills. However, remember the thing about the eyes? Well, that’s where this comes in.
He frees the crab, setting it loose on Cap and his crew, killing them and sinking their ship.
Honestly, I kind of wanted the giant monster that was hunting Joel to finally show up.
Eventually Joel and Aimee do have a celebratory kiss goodbye, as he and Boy set off to his old bunker, leading them to the mountains where new dangers await.
I guess if I had an issue with the film, it would be the setup. The thing to get him out of his bunker shouldn’t have been to reconnect with his old flame.
Since their bunker is in danger, being invaded by giant ants, it should have had Joel take the initiative to leave the bunker to map out a safe path to Aimee’s bunker so they can relocate.
It would have had this ticking clock, knowing that if he fails at this, everyone back home are dead.
The old girlfriend thing just isn’t strong enough, since I knew how it would play out anyways.
The stuff with Cap also felt unneeded as well. I honestly wanted it to come down to Joel fighting a monster that was a real threat.
The main highlights however was the relationship between Joel and Boy. Even though he’s just a dog, he has loads of personality. And I was so happy that they used a real dog and not some CGI monstrosity.
I think they actually used a lot of practical effects for the monsters as well. Though don’t yell at me if they didn’t.
I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and I can’t recommend it enough this is hands down a SEE IT!
This could be my last review for Horror Month, I’m not sure what else is coming out that requires a full review. But I’ll just but it in the we’ll see pile.
Again, make sure to check out the WEEKEND WRAP-UP I do every Saturday.
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