Warning: This interview comprises Love and Monsters spoilers. Reserve it till after you watch the movie.
Love and Monsters—a brand new post-apocalyptic journey movie starring Dylan O’Brien which launched on demand at the moment—will inevitably get in comparison with 2009’s Zombieland. That’s hardly a foul factor, contemplating Zombieland was an enormous hit amongst critics and audiences. However Love and Monsters director Michael Matthews would quite lean away from the comparability.
“Zombieland‘s a bit more punchy,” he told Decider in a virtual interview. “[Love and Monsters] does have humor, but it’s received a bit extra coronary heart.” As an alternative, he cites The Final of Us as a serious inspiration. (Those that have performed the online game would possibly discover that O’Brien’s character, Joel Dawson, shares a primary identify with The Final of Us‘s Joel Miller.)
In Love and Monsters—which was written by Brian Duffield and Matthew Robinson, and produced by Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen—Joel is a twenty-something trapped in an underground bunker. The apocalypse got here within the type of big, mutated bugs and frogs when he was 16. However Joel’s extra involved with the truth that he’s been separated from his girlfriend (Jessica Henwick) for the final seven years. When he learns she’s at one other bunker 80 miles away, he decides to threat the floor to be together with her. Alongside the way in which, he meets monsters, associates (performed by Ariana Greenblatt and Michael Rooker), and the world’s biggest canine. Decider spoke to Matthews about creating the top of the world, attempting to not pet the canine, and the potential of a Love and Monsters sequel.
Decider: Inform me about working with Dylan O’Brien as Joel. He actually is in each scene of this movie.
Michael Matthews: Dylan carries the entire film. The primary time I met Dylan, the very first thing we talked about was looking for an honesty to the efficiency and attempting to not be restrictive in the way in which we work collectively. It was actually vital for us to simply let a little bit of area be there in order that you could possibly discover issues within the second that felt sincere and humorous. Joel Dawson being within the second of the scene felt prefer it was one of the crucial vital issues. And we mentioned this concept that he’s been caught within the bunker for seven years, from his late teen years. He’s misplaced numerous your essential growing-up part. Socially, he’s been stunted. We needed to have that come throughout. He’s 24 now, however he’s nonetheless sort of 16, in a means. He hasn’t skilled numerous issues. There’s an innocence there, and an awkwardness. A little bit little bit of an underdeveloped factor that was fairly charming.
Inform me about working with Boy the canine. I think about it’s a bit completely different than working with human actors.
Working with canine is basically tough. You both are going to get issues on the day otherwise you aren’t going to get them. However schedule is tight, and making a film is tough. You possibly can’t financial institution on simply this canine being one thing you’ll be able to talk into getting precisely what you want. It was actually tough. On the identical time, we received top-of-the-line trainers, and the perfect canine we may’ve imagined.
What number of canine performed Boy?
There have been solely two, truly. There was Hero, and there was Dodge. Dodge was slightly bit extra docile, and a bit extra relaxed. If we had scenes the place he simply wanted to be quiet, or not be overly-excited about issues, it was usually Dodge. Additionally, Dodge most popular moving into water. Hero was the one, I believe, who was type of in 80 p.c of the film. He was tremendous good and tremendous enthusiastic about all the things. Him and Dylan have been finest associates all through the entire course of. It was actually superior. We have been usually struggling to get takes or do issues as a result of Dylan simply needed to play with Hero. So did I! I keep in mind the coach going, “Look, as director, if you start getting too much of a connection with the dog, he’s going to be looking at you while he’s doing scenes. He’s going to run to you afterward and want to play around. You’ve got to choose: Are you going to be friends with the dog, or are you going to have the dog acting in the movie?” I used to be like, “Aw, shit. Okay, I can’t be the person having fun with Boy.”
[Spoiler alert: Skip this question if you haven’t watched the movie yet!] I used to be very relieved, and I’m certain others might be too, that the canine doesn’t die on this film. Was there ever a model the place that did occur? Or is it vital to you to let the canine dwell?
No, there wasn’t [a version where he died]. I believe it’s vital to have a second the place you felt the true threat of that, and the potential of that, and the way vital that relationship had change into to each of them. However yeah, there by no means was some extent. It’s identical to… why do this? We care an excessive amount of about them. It felt prefer it wouldn’t be the correct transfer. However that stated, you’re not allowed to spoil that for individuals who haven’t watched it but!
I really like these early scenes within the bunker and the sensation of discovered household that it evoked. How did you design that set?
Effectively, as a place to begin, I labored with somebody that I’m an enormous fan of and at all times have been: Dan Hennah, who labored with Peter Jackson on numerous his movies. He additionally did Thor: Ragnarok. I used to be simply fairly an enormous fan of him, from watching his behind the scenes on DVDs years in the past on Lord of the Rings. He had nice perception into the practicalities of constructing one thing, and design concepts that actually introduced it to life. It was actually this concept of household being fairly an vital factor. You’ve received this mismatch of people that have survived and located themselves down there — most of them with out their shut associates or household. Every one in all these individuals is a person that’s completely different from one another, however they’ve needed to make the area work, and discover a love for one another. That’s one other factor that I really like in regards to the film—it’s not dystopic, tonally. It’s not doomed. When most people have been whacked out, and everybody’s determined, and the world has ended—individuals aren’t attempting to take from one another. They nearly worth society extra. Humanity turns into extra vital as a result of there’s an actual worth to understanding there aren’t that many individuals round. It’s simply superior simply to have precise, different individuals, quite than simply being alone.
And the post-apocalyptic world past the bunker—how did you construct that?
It began with the general tonal method to verify the movie felt overgrown and luxurious. Nature carries on once we disappear. We’re having to dwell in caves and underground, we’re not as a lot of an affect on the entire planet, so all the things grows. Reasonably than feeling like an apocalyptic movie the place it’s change into gloomy, or it’s change into dry and dusty, or it’s change into frosty and icy, I simply thought it was cool that the world carries on. It’s extra vibrant with life. Discovering these places in Australia was essential, and we had superb location scouts. Our line producer, John Starke, helped facilitate in getting essentially the most out of what we had; to verify we didn’t must chew an excessive amount of artificially. That was one of many massive issues for me: I didn’t need it to finish up feeling too shiny, or too synthetic. I needed it to really feel like an actual journey, and an actual journey. You are feeling like when he’s within the grime, he’s within the grime. Versus once you get the sense that it’s a blue display and a studio.
We didn’t have an enormous funds to do any: “What do we want? Let’s do anything.” There was numerous discovering actually fascinating places. We might add the vegetation and develop, put vines and timber and issues via it so it felt extra overgrown. Numerous that stuff is visible results, for stuff that’s additional within the background. The opposite half for me, which I really like, is simply this concept that it’s a habitat for these cold-blooded creatures. Bugs and issues—it’s their world now. Eggs and nests, and the way in which they’ve modified environments—it displays a much bigger model of bugs and amphibians.
I received some Zombieland vibes from this film, notably with the characters of Minnow and Clyde. How a lot was that an inspiration for you?
It wasn’t actually, to be sincere. Final of Us was truly sort of fairly an inspiration for me—the sport. The world, and extra of that honesty. Though there completely are similarities to Zombieland, I really feel like Zombieland’s a bit extra punchy, and stronger in its punchiness of humor and gags. For us, it was at all times attempting to make a extra traditional journey. It does have humor, nevertheless it’s received a bit extra coronary heart, and a bit extra honesty. It’s slightly slower. When individuals see the film, I believe it’s received a bit extra substance and coronary heart to it than they may have anticipated. There aren’t many films the place it’s this insecure, ill-equipped man going to get a lady in a style film, so I assume that’s the Zombieland overlap. However I didn’t truthfully give it some thought an excessive amount of. Like I stated, Final of Us, visually and tonally, was a bit extra of an inspiration for me. It’s received the look to it. No story concepts or character concepts, however simply a few of the world. Really, slightly easter egg: Joel’s t-shirt was an homage. He’s simply received sort of a sundown shirt, and the principle, younger woman character in Final of Us has one thing related on her shirt.
[Spoiler alert: Skip this question if you haven’t watched the movie yet!] Talking of the romance, it’s refreshing that it doesn’t end up fairly how Joel expects with Aimee. However then they do kiss! What does that kiss imply?
It’s actually simply the rising up of the 2 of them. Joel turning into comfy and assured sufficient with himself to know that they’ve been via so much and that they do care about one another. He has come all this manner. You possibly can see on the finish, from her standpoint, a way that she’s transferring previous a block from when he first arrived. I don’t wish to give too many solutions, as a result of it’s actually how the viewers feels about it. But it surely was simply to say: It’s not a tough finish to their relationship. It’s additionally not saying, “Now they’re into each other again, and that’s going to carry on.” It’s only a bit extra of a mutual rising up. Joel had a romantic-idealistic standpoint. He hasn’t even considered the truth that, in seven years, somebody can change. She’s grown up much more than he has. It’s nearly like he’s nonetheless a child, and she or he’s nonetheless a bit extra coping with the realities. Taking duty. That’s fairly the wake-up name. And we didn’t need it to be gimmicky, together with her simply being into another man. Issues aren’t at all times a straightforward, completely satisfied ending.
It does really feel like there may be room for a sequel. Have you ever been fascinated about concepts for Love and Monsters 2? Has there been a severe dialogue of that?
There’s been some dialogue about it. I’ve received a number of fascinating concepts. However we did concentrate on this simply being its personal film. It’s not the method of, “How do we start a franchise?” It was actually like, “Let’s make a cool movie! And then let’s see what the response is, how it does, and think about an interesting way of where that world can go.” For me, and for Dylan, that’s been fairly a key factor: Not attempting to visualise it as this film that’s a franchise starter. That’s actually as much as the viewers.