Film review, by Claire Durrant, of Little Monsters, the comedy about a teacher who pretends a zombie apocalypse that breaks out during a school trip is a game to avoid upsetting her young pupils. Starring Lupita Nyong’o.
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Dave (Alexander England) is a washed up, lowlife and wannabe musician who after being dumped by his girlfriend ends up staying on his sister’s sofa. Whilst taking his nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca) to school, Dave is introduced to Felix’s teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o.)
After immediately becoming infatuated with her, Dave agrees to help chaperone the pupils on a field trip. Unbeknownst to the group, a US testing facility is situated nearby their destination and there’s just been a zombie outbreak.
Review, by Claire Durrant
The irony that the zombie genre refuses to die has been made even more apparent this year.
The undead were recently seen as political satire in Jamusch’s The Dead Don’t Die and director Ruben Fleischer has just released Zombieland: Double Tap – a whole decade after his original zombie comedy hit.
Little Monsters director Abe Forsythe has put his Australian appeal in to the over saturated genre to give us a mellow, campy and fun flick. That being said, the language and jokes are dark and vulgar. I loved it! One visual gag had me laughing so hard I had to excuse myself and head to the toilet!
It’s hard to review a zombie comedy film without comparing it to the champion of the genre, Shaun of the Dead (2004), and Little Monsters does indeed share similarities with it. Mainly in the two film’s leads, Dave and Shaun who both start as deadbeat ‘zero’s’ and go through the reluctant hero’s journey in their film’s narrative structure. However, England plays Dave with more juvenile charm – which adds to the film’s overall lighthearted tone.
Forsythe admitted that this film is a love letter to kindergarten teachers, but more so to the teacher who looks after his own allergy suffering son. Miss Caroline embodies the heart, soul and strength of the film and is played sublimely by Lupita Nyong’o.
Miss Caroline can go from entertaining her pupils with a ukulele remediation of Taylor Swift songs, to battling a hoard of zombies in order to get to an epipen a student needs. With her previous performance in Us (2019), Nyong’o is firmly placing herself as the modern day final girl. I hope to see her more in the horror genre.
The finish out the cast of adult leads is Josh Gad as children’s TV entertainer Teddy McGiggle and honestly to say anything about his standout performance would be to ruin your experience. All I’ll say is that Gad is clearly breaking away from his Disney image.
Is this film groundbreaking? No.
Are the zombies unique or memorable? No.
What this film offers though is a simple, hilarious and charismatic take of the horror subgenre.
Given recent complaints that mainstream cinema is becoming “too dark”, hopefully Miss Caroline is the cure with her bright dress and even brighter outlook on life.
Cast & credits
Director: Abe Forsythe. 1hr 33mins/93mins. Made Up Stories/Protagonist Pictures/Snoot Entertainment. (15).
Producers: Jessica Calder, Keith Calder, Steve Hutensky et al.
Writers: Abe Forsythe.
Camera: Lachlan Milne.
Music: Piers Burbrook de Vere.
Sets: Sam Hobbs.
Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca.