NOVEMBER 7 ― When the Covid-19 pandemic first arrived in March, the whole lockdown thing happening across the world had no doubt set minds everywhere back to movies they've seen about the end of the world or the apocalypse.
Even the viewing patterns on streaming platforms like Netflix back then showed a sharp increase in appetite for apocalyptic movies, especially the ones involving pandemics.
There's a long history of these movies being made even as far back as the silent era, with science fiction writing providing much of the starting point for these films.
The most famous of these earlier apocalypse films is probably the Alexander Korda film Things To Come from 1936, an adaptation of HG Wells' 1933 novel The Shape Of Things To Come.
Things truly came to a head in the 1950s as the early craze for science fiction films peaked, resulting in classics like The War Of The Worlds and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, both of which have been remade by Hollywood for modern audiences, and in the case of the latter, remade twice!
As technology and visual effects got better and more advanced throughout the years, we've seen even more apocalypse movies being made, especially since the 2000s, when CGI made it easier to depict even more fantastical sights and sounds as film-makers across the world fantasised about the many ways that the world could end, and the various kinds of apocalyptic scenarios we could be facing.
From comets hitting Earth to the nuclear apocalypse, zombie apocalypse, alien invasions and even plants getting their revenge on humans, there's no end to the variety of things that one can think up when it comes to end-of-the-world scenarios.
A personal favourite of mine is when an apocalypse movie arrives armed with a cheeky sense of humour, like how Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland depicted a zombie apocalypse.
Of course some of my favourite apocalypse movies are serious ones as well, like the Steven Spielberg remake of War Of The Worlds or the brilliantly thrilling A Quiet Place.
But still, you can't go wrong with a humourous apocalypse film done right, and it's just my luck that I came across two very fine new ones in the last couple of weeks.
So of course it's my pleasure to share with you, dear readers, these two fun new movies.
Love and Monsters
A cheerful apocalypse movie is not something that you encounter often, and that is exactly what South African director Michael Matthews (of Five Fingers For Marseilles fame) has managed to deliver to us in these tough and often challenging times.
The apocalypse in question here is a sort of monster apocalypse, a side effect of nuclear arms turning insects and whatnots into huge creatures that roam the Earth's surface as humans retreat into underground bunkers just to survive.
Enter our hero Joel (played with hugely appealing charisma by Dylan O'Brien from The Maze Runner films), who's been living underground for seven years, and is now on one of those classic 80s/90s coming of age films' quest to “prove himself.”
You see, Joel is one of those shy, non-macho nice guys who often freezes in times of crisis. After spending years scouring surviving colonies using a radio to look for his pre-apocalypse girlfriend, he finally finds her, and has now decided to make the journey on planet Earth's very dangerous surface to her colony... just to see her.
So yes, this is more or less Zombieland with giant insects instead of zombies, as Joel meets a pair of fellow travellers and learns a thing or two from them, and Matthews has a grand time setting up the film's many really funny jokes and delivering them effortlessly.
So if you're looking for some really fun, family-friendly entertainment with a monster apocalypse setting, you won't find too many new films out there that are more enjoyable than this one.
Providing a slightly different kind of fun when compared to Love and Monsters, the low budget comedy Save Yourselves imagines how your typical contemporary relationship comedy (ie. mumblecore) would play out if it's merged with an alien invasion apocalypse movie.
A new version of mumblegore maybe? The movie starts off exactly like how you'd imagine a US indie relationship comedy centred around your typical Brooklynite hipster couple would be, with them more or less glued to their phones, arguing about typical millennial hipster stuff like sourdough recipes, quinoa and listicles, which then leads them to deciding to “unplug” and head off to a friend's vacation home for seven days to do so.
What they didn't realise is an alien invasion has been happening in the city and presumably most parts of the world as well.
Writer-directors Alex Houston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson have crafted a quietly charming feature film debut, making the best out of their limited resources by mostly setting the film with two characters in a single location, and cleverly using practical and lo-fi effects for the aliens, which comes in the shape of a pouffe.
The real achievement here is in the film-makers' ability to make the lead characters very likable, even if they're a bit on the side of unbearable initially.
With that barrier out of the way, the audience simply can't help but want to follow them on their journey of self re-discovery and even when the film reaches its vague but breathtaking ending, we're already all the way in so we're more than willing to go along with it.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.