I think I’ve found the sweetest zombie movie in all of existence.
Not that it’s a rare gem. Little Monsters, a Hulu original film and an Aussie production, hits cinemas November 15th, and stars the Oscar-winning and always watchable genre queen Lupita Nyong’o.
The story actually follows obnoxious, selfish and overgrown child Dave (Alexander England), who is staying with his sister Tess (Kat Stewart) and her nerdy kindergartener son Felix (an impressively endearing Diesel La Torraca) after his longtime girlfriend dumps him. After taking a shining to Felix’s teacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o, who gets to keep her Kenyan accent), he volunteers to help chaperone the class trip to some sort of farm/zoo/putt-putt golf combo. However, the group’s day out is thwarted by a sudden zombie outbreak, and they must team up with foul-mouthed drunkard children’s personality star Teddy McGiggles (Josh Gad) to keep everyone safe.
The Aussies have shown they do the zombie movie as great as the best of them (Wyrmwood), and are contenders for the splatter crown (The Furies, Wolf Creek). But writer-director Abe Forsythe has created a stinkin’ adorable – yet somehow comically dark – take on the subgenre.
All of the characters have their chance to shine (even the kids), but the movie is largely about Dave, who is such an irredeemable arsehole that you wonder if he fell out of a South Park episode, shamelessly starting fights with kids and swearing at any given opportunity. But England’s impeccable comic timing has us laughing at him until his predicament forces him to nut up for the sake of the kids. Especially as Gad’s character (who is frustratingly one-note) is even more foul-mouthed and violently selfish, serving as a cautionary tale against Dave’s aimless trajectory. He and Nyong’o, who steals the film as the world’s sunniest school teacher, share believable chemistry, and each of the kids’ bite-sized exchanges and contributions are genuinely charming to watch.
The humour keeps any disturbing threat at bay – this isn’t that kind of film, even though unnamed children do get zombified. There’s a fun call-back for every set-up, whether it’s tractor fanboying or an obsession with putt-putt golf, and the little drips of character reveal and growth are a sweet touch to the tightly paced proceedings.
As for the zombies themselves, there’s a neat spin on their portrayal I won’t spoil, and there’s actually gooey gore galore, so this definitely isn’t a film for kids. All of it’s served up in a creatively, typically Australian fashion, with a sprinkle of satire to boot. Perfect for multiple rewatches, it’s a little movie with a great big bloody heart.