Hey Matt Jackson, I liked Malcolm in the Middle too!
There. I said it.
If you don’t know who Matt Jackson is, he is the director of Love in the Time of Monsters. LITOM wants to be a 1980’s creature feature, but it is way more than that. While everything about it looks and feels 80s, it also becomes a television lover’s fever dream. And, no…it’s not bad. It’s pretty damn funny in places and is quite quirky in a Return of the Living Dead fashion. By the end of it, you end up just rolling with the ridiculousness and sad to see it over.
Sisters Carla (Marissa Skell) and Marla (Gena Shaw) and have had some memorable vacations. As children, they watched as their father killed at a roadside attraction. But they decide to vacation together anyways at Uncle Slavko’s All-American Lodge anyways. The lodge is tucked back into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, and Carla’s fiancee has been secretly moonlighting there for extra money. Carla wants to surprise fiancee Johnny (Jade Carter) and reward him for his efforts.
Johnny and his co-workers (including icon Kane Hodder) accidentally fall into the swamp while working (They dress up as Bigfoot so tourists can get photos of the mythical beast.) before the girls arrive though. It just so turns out that the swamp is filled with toxic waste and “mutates” the crew. They become mindless zombies that act as a sasquatch pack mutilating and killing everything they come across. As the film progresses, we learn that the men aren’t the only things affected by the swamp. Various creatures throughout the forest are as well (which leads to some hilarious kills including a death by moose that I’ve never seen before in my life).
Carla attempts to erotically surprise Johnny in the forest and he shows no interest in her at all. After she escapes his clutches, Carla ends up with Chester (Hugo Armstrong) who can best be described as a poor man’s Ron Swanson (from Parks and Recreation). The duo make their way back to the lodge, and the group sets up for a final confrontation. But, at the lodge, Doug Jones‘ character Dr. Lincoln manufactures a cure. The group is left with a choice: let their attackers die, or attempt to cure them.
The plot goes into some quite ridiculous territories, but I can’t help but notice how well much it sets up like the classic Return of the Living Dead. We have multiple groups of people dealing with different issues (which works well here). The characters are fun and very likeable. But, ultimately, the movie plays out like a crazy television episode like South Park. It never quite achieves its “80s creature throwback” status until the squirrels are introduced, and by then it doesn’t need to be something else: It’s etches its own place in your memory.
I guarantee that Uncle Slavko was based on Malcolm in the Middle character Otto (who owned the ranch Francis worked at). As ridiculous as that character was, Uncle Slavko meets him step for step in craziness. In fact, that’s what got me about the third act: between Slavko, Chester, and the ultimate conclusion, the film feels like a television watcher’s dream.
Special effects were very hit and miss. There’s some very good stuff here, and there’s a few pieces that needed work on. I loved the puppets, and the kills were great. But, at some point one of the creatures becomes electrified. It’s ok at best.
Love in the Time of Monsters is available on VOD, and completely worth the watch if you love horror comedies. Check it out. It achieves the perfect combination of horror and comedy that very few films can.