10 Reasons Why Love and Monsters Stands Out From Your Average Post-Apocalyptic Young Adult Movie

Dept. of Puberty and Post-Apocalypse


Thanks to the popularity of The Hunger Games we’ve seen a huge surge in plucky young heroines and, to a lesser extent, heroes, negotiating life, love, puberty, and post apocalyptic landscapes in recent years. With so many trying to cash in on the trend we get a lot of “new” tropes and clichés. So what makes Love and Monsters stand out from a crowd that includes Divergent, Mortal Engines (which more people should have seen), The 5th Wave, The Host, and even Dylan O’Brien’s own The Maze Runner?

Here are 10 reasons why Love and Monsters stands out from your average post-apocalyptic YA Movie.


1. A Different Kind of Apocalypse

As The Walking Dead approaches it’s eleventh and final season this year it’s hard not to consider Zombies as a bit old hat. At this stage I’m not even sure if Zack Snyder returning to the genre with Army of the Dead is a good or bad thing, so I was pleasantly surprised so see an altogether different type of apocalypse in Love and Monsters. While it may have been another pesky asteroid that kicks things off, the fall of human civilization comes about not due to the rock itself but rather the fallout from the all the weapons used to blow it up. All the chemicals and toxins that fall back to earth cause all cold blooded life on earth to mutate to a massive, murderous size. It’s a ’50s B-movie concept updated for the modern day and it’s a nice break from the usual post-apocalyptic foes.

2. Not So Mad Max

If you have to spend a movie travelling 80 miles across a giant creature infested wasteland with just one guy, Dylan O’Brien is, thankfully, more than entertaining as a travelling companion. After 7 years in a bunker with a gaggle of happy couples, O’Brien’s Joel Dawson sets out to reach his pre-apocalypse girlfriend, Aimee, who is in her own coastal bunker. It might sound pretty soppy, and as an inciting incident it’s pretty clichéd, but thanks to Dylan’s “aw shucks” charm, Joel’s funny not-so-internal-monologue, and his almost complete lack of survival skills, O’Brien easily caries the movie, a good thing considering how much time Joel spends on his own.


3. Who’s a Good Boy?

It’s not all introspection in the post-apocalypse, as Joel picks up another stray on his travels, the dog “Boy.” Even without a telepathic link, Boy has to be one of the best animal companions in some time that’s not animated. Boy’s got his own motivations and arc (that damned dress!) and ends up being the co-lead for the movie. Despite an initial respectful distance between the two, Joel even does pet the dog.

4. Get Me Rooker!

Michael Rooker is no stranger to the post-apocalypse or larger than life villains, and despite his eventual Heel-Face Turn in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s still refreshing to see his face turn up in Love And Monsters and not immediately worry about Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead. Rooker is his usual gruff yet likeable self and works surprisingly well as a duo with Ariana Greenblatt’s diminutive Minnow.

5. NOT Based Upon The Long Running Book Series

Love and Monsters is an original screenplay so there’s no characters from the books to be squeezed in or sidekicks who need to be built up quickly just to get murdered (I’m looking at you Shadow and Bone). It has a great sense of what it needs to be and sticks to that. Despite a number of dangling plot threads as the credits roll, writers Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson still wrap this movie up satisfactorily. There’s plenty more to explore in this strange world if audiences are into it, but it doesn’t leave you on a cliffhanger.


6. Putting the Adult in “Young Adult”

Sure, Joel is a bit useless at the end of the world, and fixates on a relationship from seven years ago, but Love and Monsters recognizes that might not be the most healthy position. He needs to do a lot of growing up and by the end of the film is leaning a lot more towards the “Adult” end of YA. Considering how much of YA fiction is focused on young love triangles and annoying yearning for loves lost, it’s refreshing to see Joel’s quest to reach Aimee play out not as predictably as you might expect. Grown-up love is far more complicated than that, and so is Love and Monsters.

7. Jessica Henwick

Henwick Plays Aimee, Joel’s girlfriend from before the apocalypse, who he seeks out at the end of the world. She doesn’t get too much to do but she’s always a good watch and I’m still mad we got two seasons of Iron Fist instead of more of this.

8. After All I’ve Done for You…

I don’t care how good or bad your “end of the world” movie is, you get some bonus post-apocalypse movie points in my book by casting Bruce Spence, even in a brief role.

9. Creepy Crawlies

The concept of giant bugs may evoke the B-movie aesthetic of Them!, or Eight Legged Freaks, but the the film doesn’t scrimp on the the “Monsters” part of the title. The designs of Sandgobblers, Boulder Snails, and other critters all manage to be suitably gross while remaining just on the right side of horrific for its 13+ rating. Even if we never encounter the the dreaded Chumbler in the flesh, there’s plenty here to give you the heebie jeebies.


10. We’re All in This Together

In yet another break from the norm, there may be giant creatures ready to eat you around every corner in Love and Monsters, but at least not every human is out to get you. Despite focusing on “the end of the world as we know it,” Joel meets plenty of people who are wiling to help out the completely unprepared doofus as he first wanders out into the world and don’t just try and kill him straight away.

The fact that most people assume that the only possible reason Joel would have left his colony was because he stole food shows how things have changed. That’s the biggest imaginable crime. Things are pretty bad but people have had to come together to survive. After 7 years of survival, it seems that people are, for the most part, willing to work together. It’s a surprisingly upbeat theme for a movie that starts with 95% of humanity being wiped out.

Love and Monsters is an enjoyably funny post-apocalyptic adventure that doesn’t do anything exceptional, but does everything it sets out to do very well, while being fresh enough to make it stand out.

Love and Monsters is now streaming on Netflix.

Irish Film lover lost in Malaysia. Co-host of Malaysia's longest running podcast (movie related or otherwise ) McYapandFries and frequent cryer in movies. Ask me about "The Ice Pirates"

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