I tend to enjoy the horror comedy genre because I think that horror lends itself well to being laughed at. Even in a standard horror movie, the release of tension with a fake out scare or innocuous encounter can elicit laughs from an audience. In addition, horror is a genre that has had more attention paid to the meta-textual rules by its fans such that deviations or themes that play off of those rules are more readily appreciated. In the case of Love in the Time of Monsters, those themes are understood and even toyed with well at times but it seemed to want to cram as many in as it could without really regarding how it would fit into the film as a whole.
The movie takes place at Uncle Slavko’s All-American Family Lodge, a tourist trap that celebrates all things Americana including having hiking tours where employees can meet Big Foot (or at least an employee dressed like him). Due to some illegal chemical dumping in the swamp near the lodge, the waters near Uncle Slavko’s have turned toxic with some zombie inducing qualities. When the group of Sasquatch impersonators all end up falling into the water, all hell breaks loose and things turn deadly. It’s up to two sisters and a handful of disgruntled employees to try to save the day and possibly find a cure for the crazed skunk ape actors.
The basic premise is not, in and of itself, that bad. Most of the weaknesses of the film come from the films schizophrenic nature as it bounces around with a lot of odd developments that come from nowhere and lead to nothing. A few examples are things like one of the main characters getting scratched early on by one of the yeti boys and the film makes sure to spend time showing you the wounds and having her dress it and poke at it. Obviously this would seem like it would be leading to an infection scenario or at the least matter as a hampering injury later but is then forgotten immediately after. The backstory for the sisters also feels like it should probably be more important because it’s the opening of the film and shows how when they were kids their dad died on a family vacation. The movie barely remembers this and only touches on it maybe twice with one of those being a catchphrase at the end of the film that feels forced since it had nothing to do with what was happening.
This isn’t to say that the film doesn’t have strong points. Especially the character of Doctor Lincoln, Doug Jones giving a spectacular performance playing a scientist that is dressed as Abraham Lincoln which ends up being both comedic but played entirely straight. The effects for things like the woodland creatures attacking were deliberately cheesy and felt fun and campy. The costumed zombies were also fun to watch as they chased people around in their ridiculous get-ups. The film is just all too excited about these things and it feels like the movie wanted to skip all the boring character stuff and show you all the goofy monster stuff, like a kid on Christmas morning that forcedly acknowledges the clothes they got but can’t wait to rip into the awesome new toy.
If you are the type of person that loves the genre for the fun effects and goofy surprises, this is definitely one to watch. If you like having a little more substance to your story in addition to the horror slapstick, this one might leave you wanting. I’d personally give it a 3 out of 5.
Favorite thing in the movie: The Big Kahuna, one of the employees, doing a dance performance to distract the Sasquatch boys. Perfect balance of being ridiculous but still necessary to the plot at the moment.
Least favorite thing: The only nudity in the film happens towards the very end and feels like they realized they hadn’t put tits in the movie yet but they still needed to check that box on the “List of things in every horror comedy”.