Sharing its title with the worst pre-Chibnall Doctor Who episode, 2020’s Love and Monsters thankfully doesn’t share any plot points with that appalling story as it’s a post apocalyptic tale told from the perspective of Joel (Dylan O’Brien), a slightly cowardly fella who misses his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick) as he hasn’t seen her for seven years after Earth was besieged by monsters.
That took place due to an asteroid threatening Earth being nuked out of existence, but the radioactive fall out caused all manner of insects and animals to grow an enormous extent and before they knew it 95% of humanity was wiped out and the remaining five percent were hiding out in bunkers and panic rooms across the world. But now Joel’s made contact again with Aimee and leaves his friends behind to go sex her up.
There’s a strong opening with exposition dumped on us in a series of drawings, along with a couple of flashbacks to when everything went wrong, and watching the downfall of humanity is quite the lark indeed. Then we’re following Joel as he travels the eighty five miles it takes to find his girlfriend, but if you’ve ever watched a film before you could probably guess that not everything would work out for the poor fella once he finally arrived.
The first half of the movie is when it is at its most enjoyable, Joel teams up with a very loyal dog early on and the two get in to lots of scrapes with the weird monsters they meet along the way, including a huge toad who wishes to devour Joel. They also meet Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt) who save him from “Sandgobblers”, and inbetween mocking his belief that Aimee will still want to touch his penis a friendship develops between the trio, and Joel slowly changes from all round rubbish twat in to a heroic type as they teach him a number of lessons that aren’t a million miles off those found in Zombieland.
Alas half way through the film Clyde and Minnow head off to some promised utopia at a top of a mountain while Joel carries on his epic trip to the coast and the movie becomes duller. There’s a minor bout of action with a giant cockroach but after that Joel has a strange meeting with a robot who has just enough power to ramble away with him for a tedious ten minutes, Joel then gets covered in leeches and comes down with a weird psychedelic fever that’s less exciting than I’ve made it sound, and when he finally meets up with Aimee as everyone will have predicted it’s not quite the reunion he’d have hoped for.
In the final fifteen minutes it becomes more fun again, a gigantic crab motherfucker and a dodgy human being are both fine villains, and the ending is satisfying. So it’s a shame there’s the weak middle section which really lets things down, if it had maintained the pace found in the first third it could have been an action classic, featuring a number of monsters that you wouldn’t have seen anywhere else, but in a misguided attempt to give it depth it leads to a movie that’s only for fans of the genre.