Love and Monsters (2020) - Doing the monster mash.

Directed by Michael Matthews. Written by Bryan Duffield (story & screenplay), Matthew Robinson (screenplay). Starring: Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, Michael Rooker, Ariana Greenblatt & Dan Ewing.

When an asteroid was headed on a collision course with Earth, we did the only thing we could. Fired rockets at it to blow it up.

And it worked.

Kind of.

Unfortunately, despite destroying the asteroid, the chemical compounds in the rockets, rained back down to earth, causing mutations in all of the non-mammalian lifeforms.

Wait. What?

The mutations weren’t caused by alien spores or anything on the asteroid?

No? We’re going with the chemicals in the rockets?

OK then.

Chemicals that somehow weren’t vapourised in the explosion, or burned on re-entry, fell to Earth causing various animals to mutate. This caused major problems for humans as we ended up getting stepped on or eaten and now live in underground bunkers, eking out an ok, but not great existence.

In one of these bunkers lives Joel (Dylan O’Brien), who has managed to get into radio contact with another bunker and speak to his girlfriend Aimee (Jessica Henwick), who he hasn’t seen in the seven years since the world turned into a monster playground.

Feeling a little redundant in his current role, he decides to set out and travel eighty miles through monster-infested lands to be reunited with Aimee.

There is a lot to like about this movie, especially the aesthetics of the new world.

Gone are most of mankind’s mechanical trappings, covered by the encroachment of nature as nature has taken over.

Anyone who has played Horizon: Zero Dawn, or The Last of Us, will have an idea of what I mean. This isn’t a Mad Max-style post-apocalyptic wasteland, but one filled with life as both animal (monster) and plants thrive.

Visually, the movie is a treat. There’s a good mixture of both practical effects and CGI for the various monsters. Set design and Wardrobe have been handled well too, with everything looking just how you would expect it to. Someone has definitely taken the time to achieve the look of the world of Love and Monsters.

It’s just a shame, the same can’t be said of the rest of the movie.

Joel is portrayed as too bumbling and inefficient. There is no way he would survive in the outside world. He’s a man who wasn’t even sure which direction to head out when leaving the bunker.

He has help along the way, in the form of a stray dog, and from his encounter with Clyde (Michael Rooker) and Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt). But, these characters feel much more interesting than Joel, who seems to make his journey through bumbling luck.

Joel isn't impressed when he finds out Aimee has a severe case of crabs.

There’s also a lot of things that are unexplained in the movie, such as the monster tracking device that they have in Joel’s bunker. How does it work and why can’t they equip smaller versions to allow them to venture outside and explore? And if they can track creatures that breach the walls, why can’t they keep in radio contact with the folks that hunt it down?

Having things unexplained wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the huge amount of narration. The first twenty minutes feel like they are around eighty per cent narration. Rather than have the story do all the work, we have to listen to Joel tell us everything. There is way too much for my taste, and it soon becomes annoying.

These issues don’t mean the movie is bad because it is actually charming and entertaining.

The problem is that the best thing about it is the visuals, with the story not being that interesting and ultimately being something that most of us have seen before.

It may seem lazy of me to describe Love and Monsters as a Zombieland clone, but there are too many similarities to ignore.

There’s the narration explaining the world, only in a less entertaining way.

There’s our bumbling, protagonist, who meets the older character, who has adapted to the new life.

Joel even has a numbered lists of lessons, rather like the rules from Zombieland.

For me, it was an average experience.

It’s not as bloody or sweary as the aforementioned Zombieland, so it is something you’re more likely to watch with your kids/grandma, but, it’s also nowhere near as entertaining as that movie.

Love and Monsters is worth watching once but don’t expect it to bring anything, story-wise, that you haven’t seen before.

Watching a post-apocalyptic movie filled with bright visuals and lacking in doom and gloom was a treat, but its charm can't hide a cliché and underwhelming story.