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SYFY WIRE Dylan O'Brien

Love and Monsters at NYCC: Looking for love in the mutated post-apocalypse

By Benjamin Bullard
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Oh, the lengths we’ll go to find true love. Sheltering underground in a post-apocalyptic world where tiny creatures have mutated into hideous beasts, Love and Monsters’ hero undertakes a dangerous overland  journey for the noblest of reasons: there’s a girl he loves somewhere out there. All he has to do is make it to her...without getting eaten.

Like another travelin’ post-apocalyptic hero in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us, his name’s Joel, and like his video game counterpart, Love and Monsters’ Joel is fighting not for glory, but to protect what he loves. There’s something idealistic and innocent to what motivates Joel (played by Dylan O’Brien) to brave the harsh outside world, and at New York Comic Con, O’Brien and the rest of the Love and Monsters cast joined director Michael Matthews for a panel chat to break down what makes the upcoming creature feature tick.

“This guy decides to travel, like, 85 miles from his bunker to the ocean to find the love of his life,” explained Michael Rooker (Guardians of the Galaxy), who plays a laid-back Crocodile Dundee-style hunter who Joel meets (along with a very good dog) once he’s out in the wild. “He has to travel through this godforsaken wasteland with monsters that can jump up and nip off your head at any second!”

Check out the full panel below:

Sounds scary — and we’ve certainly seen how hopelessly fearsome things can get when movies like A Quiet Place push their characters out of hiding and into a monster-dominated new reality. But Matthews said he directed the film hoping to convey the same sense of optimism found in 1980s and 1990s sci-fi and adventure classics like Back to the Future, Indiana Jones, and Jurassic Park.

Like its popcorn predecessors from Zemeckis and Spielberg, Love and Monsters wants to triumph over our worst fears, find happiness and hope, and have fun doing it amid all the giant-sized scares. “The human spirit kind of comes through in a way. There’s, like, an honesty with people wanting to connect,” Matthews said, adding that production designer Dan Hennah (who helped Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King land its art and visual effects Oscars) struck the perfect balance by creating monsters that will scare audiences — without venturing into hopelessly dystopian territory.

That helps put the focus on the human characters, said O’Brien, who used the word “sweet” repeatedly to describe the vibe at the heart of Love and Monsters’ do-or-die story. Living underground, Joel is “so stunted from developing and coming of age as he ordinarily would be in his adolescent years,” said O’Brien. “…You have this really sweet guy who wants nothing more than to be a hero and he decides…that it’s more important to do that and at least die trying. I just think there’s something sweet about that.’’

Well, as sweet as a movie about dodging giant snails and other overgrown mutants from the tiny animal kingdom can be, anyway. “It’s a fun, sweet, cute, weird, original movie,” O’Brien gushed, “so go, get on that couch, and watch our movie!”

The film’s script was penned by Brian Duffield (Insurgent) and Matthew Robinson (Dora and the Lost City of Gold), from an original story by Duffield, with Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen of 21 Laps (Arrival, Stranger Things) and John Starke (Sicario, Deadpool) producing. Starring O’Brien, Jessica Henwick (as love interest Aimee), Rooker, and Ariana Greenblatt, Love and Monsters is heading straight to premium video on demand and digital download beginning Oct. 16.

Click here for SYFY WIRE's full coverage of New York Comic Con 2020.