If movies were a heat map, the routes that zombie movies take would flare it up in two solid directions: a survival thriller or a comedy romp. Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters stands firmly in the latter, with promises of a couple of laughs at the absurdity of where this plot is going. Being the third zombie movie, and third zombie comedy I’ve seen this year, behind Zombieland 2 and One Cut of the Dead, I certainly went hoping that the ideas would stick to the wall, and I’m certainly not disappointed.
After only watching a trailer for Little Monsters, I almost thought I selected the wrong movie at first. The type of comedy sticks true through the movie, which is primarily lots of swearing and frustrated adults acting out at one another, but the tone was what really stuck to me. Going in blind would probably throw many watchers into a loop, which is a strong plus in my eyes, especially considering this genre. Once you get into the meat and potatoes of the movie and you know what is actually going on, it’s a very fun ride.
Little Monsters follows the recently single stoner bum, Dave (Alexander England) and his nephew’s (Diesel La Torraca) Kindergarten teacher, “Miss Caroline” (Lupita Nyong'o). When Dave first sees Miss Caroline, he suddenly makes it his goal to be with her, and when a spot to help chaperone a field trip to a farm opens up, despite his lazy and pessimistic nature, he takes it. Shortly into the trip, a zombie breakout happens and the two make it their goal to keep every kid not only safe, but innocent to what’s actually going on around them.
The unfortunate side effect of this genre is the plot tends to not present much innovation, rather leaning on a fun and good looking time, and that’s unfortunately the case here too. Nothing in terms of story really jumped out. There’s no nuance in the numerous Chekov Guns used throughout the film. If a character had an item, they had to announce it, putting in your head that it’ll come back into play. There was no reward for remembering details and the plot didn’t sit on anything astounding to make you remember this movie.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The easiest thing to say about this review once the movie was wrapped was that Lupita Nyong'o stole the show. Her acting and performance is the stand out, and her character’s care for the children really feels genuine. On the flip side, Alexander England’s performance was the victim of an overplayed cliché and uninteresting writing. We’re supposed to feel the character’s metamorphosis through the film and it sort of feels lackluster. Another character who makes an appearance is children’s television actor Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad) who while has a pinch too much screen time, lands with a good number of jokes. Strangely though, as soon as Gad shows up on screen, a lot of England’s character’s abrasiveness goes away. Whether this was a proactive choice or not, it feels like it fast tracked Dave into a different path and it took away from what the plot was trying to do.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Score and background music are the standard fanfare that you’d expect and it took me a rewatch to remember what was playing in the background. However, multiple times England and Nyong'o will play songs including a recurring “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift and among a few other songs including a hilariously bad song from Teddy McGiggle.
This is where Little Monsters really kicks it into full gear. As a standard, every zombie flick needs to be on their A-game when it comes to make up and it’s most definitely here. The variety of zombies here is fun, seeing as everyone is freshly turned, you have tourist zombies, farm hand zombies, military zombies, kid zombies, which leads to funny moments such as a zombie walking around with porcupine needles in his face from trying to eat one earlier. The gore is good, nothing stays on screen for too long, but even in the bright and open sunlight, everything looks great. I was super pleased that everything just worked throughout it.
While no one will be running to recommend this to everyone they know, Little Monsters, as a film was still a solid ride for what it was. It’s a good primer for a fun horror night with company and it gives exactly what it set out to give. If anything, fans of the genre will definitely have a good time and anyone who likes Lupita Nyong'o will have yet another good performance to add to her repertoire.