The actor Dylan O’Brien became a youth star thanks to the films of the franchise ‘The Maze Runner’ (The Maze Runner, 2015) and the series ‘Teen Wolf’, so perhaps those allergic to that type of product think that ‘Of love and monsters’ (Love and Monsters, 2020) has to do with the previous ones, but in reality, despite having an adaptation tone young adult, is one of the first pieces of a cinema dedicated to young audiences with other concerns.
You may have to see that your screenwriter is Brian Duffield, precisely emerged from the ‘Divergent’ saga, which is standing out in Hollywood for an emotional approach to genres which has already left its mark on ‘The Babysitter’ (2017), ‘Underwater’ (2020) or ‘Spontaneous‘(Spontaneous, 2020), his directorial debut a brutal coming of age which is posited as a metaphor for growing up with post-traumatic syndrome from high school shootings in the United States through a savage phenomenon in which teenagers explode out of the blue.
A competent blockbuster relegated to platforms
Duffield demonstrates a knowledge of the springs of the genre and adapts them to the anxieties of adolescent or young cinema heir to John Hughes, which here has a lot of presence, not so much of functional romantic interests as with approaches of loss, absence, trauma and other elements that it does not treat in a terrifying way, but as a way of coloring the conflicts of its characters and making the spectrum of films more interesting pure gender like ‘Of love and monsters’ that flows with comedy, adventure and many, many monsters.
And it is a shame that this ‘Of love and monsters’ was launched directly to vod or stream because of the pandemic, since it is one of those cases in which It should not be confused as one of the premieres of the week of Netflix’s own production. A panoramic approach, a good budget and an approach for the big screen and not for a mobile phone separate it by light years from products of the same depth on the platform.
In his argument there is nothing new, after the threat of an asteroid, the aftermath of the chemical compounds that save the earth creates mutant creatures from cold-blooded animals. Huge, bloodthirsty reptiles and amphibians make human survivors live underground in bunkers, looting supplies on high-risk missions. A bit the premise of the comics ‘Survivor’ from the collection ‘Ultramundo’ (1987), but with a protagonist, Joel, quite limited in his role as chef of his Bunker.
Monsters and apocalypse
A protagonist reflecting on his mortality who sets out in search of his high school sweetheart, Aimee (Jessica Henwick), as he faces his fears and sets out on an exciting journey where he encounters a lonely dog, some survivors, and loads of monsters. A kind of amiable cross between ‘A Boy and His Dog’ (A Boy and His Dog, 1975) and ‘Hellish alley‘(Damnation Alley, 1977) with cinema from the eighties, a little version 2.0 of’The night of the comet‘(Night of the Comet, 1975) for Gen Z audiences.
There will be no shortage of comparisons with ‘Zombieland’ (2009), with its insecure and neurotic hero, but it is much less a hooligan comedy aimed at an adult audience (in that one there was no lack of gore), and it does not try to be edgy at all costs, surrendering to a sentimentalism without cynicism, sincere but not too burdensome, achieving a light tone in which there is no lack of moments of tension and monster terror, but opposite to the nihilism of ‘The Walking Dead’.
The director Michael Matthews, has fun with his world of monsters, keeping a good handful of surprises, with all kinds of beings, with a certain spirit of pipe film adventure Verniana, as if updating Kevin Connor’s movies of trips to lost worlds, with very good CGI beings, who have earned an Oscar nomination for best visual effects, who sometimes seem heirs to the movie ‘Tremors’ (Tremors, 1990) and at other times from the craftsmanship of Ray Harryhausen.
Classic adventure spirit without irony
In fact, that spirit is clearly reflected in the recreation of one of the mythical moments of one of Verne’s great adaptations, ‘The mysterious Island‘(Mysterious Island, 1962), in which the magician of the stop motion he composed a delicious scene with giant crab on a beach that is here replicated with a will of sense of wonder that makes the effects are the least, capplying the magic of a monstrous apparition with a classic sense that is missed in today’s blockbusters.
But ‘Of love and monsters‘has a heart of’Treasure Island‘and the journey of the main character represents a growth for Joel, who goes from being terrified when seeing monsters to throwing grenades at the mouths of giant centipedes, losing his naivety thanks to characters like Michael Rooker y Ariana Greenblatt who spend less time than is desirable on the screen, but who is great as unlikely adventure couple, with rules to survive in a land full of creatures that give to make a series with them as protagonists.
‘Of love and monsters‘is fun, light, and beautifully done, offering enough monsters and action for those fearful of the romantic and emotional side to come out with their pockets full, but at the same time, it’s honest enough that your look at the themes of forgiveness and, yes, love, they are not a label to attract teenagers, but an approximation of interest to their characters, with just the right measure to add emotion without irony and a pure look at adventure, horror and monster cinema that does not see naivety as a negative.