Love and Monsters, released on-demand on Oct. 16, is a different kind of post-apocalyptic movie. For one, the post-apocalypse isn’t inhabited by zombies or violent, roaming groups consisting of the final dregs of humanity out to claim new territory. No, Love and Monsters, directed by Michael Matthews and starring Dylan O’Brien, Jessica Henwick, and Michael Rooker, is a kinder post-apocalypse.
**SPOILER WARNING! This story contains spoilers for Love and Monsters.**
Sure, there are mutated monsters out to get our hero Joel Dawson (O’Brien) and his trusty sidekick, a dog named Boy, but not all those monsters are so bad, and Joel’s got some help along the way.
One survivor who helps Joel out in a time of need — or, more accurately, takes pity on his pathetic, wholly unprepared butt — is Rooker’s Clyde, an adventurer and monster slayer who, along with his spitfire pseudo-daughter Minnow (Ariana Greenblatt), spends a period of time teaching Joel the finer details of how to survive the post-apocalypse.
See, when Love and Monsters opens, Joel’s been living underground for some time with his adopted family of fellow survivors. Whereas some of these survivors hunt and scavenge out in the world above, Joel is relegated to taking care of the group’s cow and helping out around the kitchen. It’s not until Joel hears from his long-lost high school sweetheart, Aimee (Henwick), that he manages the chutzpah to journey dozens of miles across an unforgiving, beautiful landscape to meet with her at her own colony.
Enter: Clyde and Minnow. While the unlikely pair, separated from their own families, are only with Joel for a short period of the movie, it’s an interaction O’Brien describes as a “chapter” in Joel’s journey. And an important one at that.
While Clyde shares some elements with other roles genre fans would know Rooker for — Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and Yondu Udonta in the Guardians of the Galaxy films — Rooker sees Clyde as special. “I don't get to play a lot of characters like this,” Rooker told SYFY WIRE ahead of the film’s premiere. “As far as his attitude and his sensibility and his humor ... We meet this young man, we save his little keister. [We transform him] from being silly and not knowing how to survive in the wild.
“We're dumbfounded by the fact that he hasn't been eaten yet,” he adds with a giggle.
Like everyone else in this world that Joel interacts with, Clyde and Minnow are at a loss as to how Joel made it as far as he did.
“We've got the joke in the movie where the people [ask Joel], ‘Did you steal food?’” director Matthews says. “It's just sort of playing into those things where that's usual for these kinds of movies: Anyone you see across the road or if you've met someone you would think, ‘Oh, sh**, he's going to want to kill me or steal what I've got,’ or something. Whereas this movie's a lot more about the more honest version of where we'd be ... we'd be needing each other and we'd be excited about finding other people and need them, the company and the humanity.”
Clyde and Minnow certainly provide that for Joel. After Boy, they’re the first friendly, non-monster faces he sees as he makes his incredible trek across the wilderness to find his love. Clyde teaches Joel Monster Survival 101, and Minnow even coaches Joel how to use the crossbow he’s been lugging around. Granted, Rooker's not so sure how helpful that would really be: “A crossbow is the one weapon that I would totally not have,” he says, laughing. “Crossbow people, I know you're gonna hate this topic, but I just think it's the dumbest weapon.”
Alas, Joel has his own adventure to attend to.
“He goes off on his own, and we continue on our path,” Rooker says of the moment Clyde and Minnow leave Joel behind. “We leave him with just a beautiful amount of knowledge that saves his little keister again and again.”
Will the trio ever be united? The end of the film sees the dynamic duo having reached their destination atop a mountain (monsters don’t like the cold, y’know) and wondering about Joel. Seems to be the perfect opening for a sequel. When asked what his ideal sequel would be, Rooker says he’d actually prefer a prequel to come before a sequel. He’d love to see the story of how Clyde and Minnow met, as their individual families’ fates are left up to a lot of interpretation in this movie.
“We find each other. And we band together. And when we meet other people, we're friendly to them,” he says. “You would think, when we meet other humans [in the apocalypse], we would be like, ‘Oh my god! What's your name? Where are you from? How do you do this?’
“It's not like The Walking Dead at all,” Rooker adds with a laugh.
Love and Monsters is now available on-demand.