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Blu-ray Review: Little Monsters

January 21, 2020

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

The zombie comedy is hardly a new invention, and we already have films like Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and its recent sequel, the teen romance Warm Bodies, as well as the delightful musical Anna and the Apocalypse to prove it’s a genre mashup that can work.

Now we can add writer-director Abe Forsyth’s Little Monsters to this list, an Australian zombie comedy which throws a class of kindergarten kids into the mix to up the undead ante. This is a film that shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it’s not only a lot of fun, it’s also surprisingly kinda sweet. Plus, it has Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o performing Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” on a ukulele.

The main character is Dave (Alexander England), an immature man-child who makes money busking. Dave has just gone through a bad breakup and, with nowhere else to go, ends up staying with his sister Tess (Kat Stewart) and her young son Felix (Diesel La Torraca), becoming more like a big brother to him than an uncle. When Dave lays eyes on his nephew’s kindergarten teacher, Miss Caroline (Nyong’o), he agrees to chaperone a class field trip to a fun farm just to get close to her.

But the farm happens to be right near a government facility where an outbreak of a virus has happened and infected patients have gotten loose. When the undead escape, they descend upon the farm, leaving Dave and Miss Caroline no choice but to team up to protect the kids. Also in the mix is Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), a wildly popular children’s television show host with an annoyingly cheery onscreen persona who happens to be taping an episode at the farm when the zombies attack, giving way to the revelation that he is actually a cruel, foul-mouthed drunk in real life. It’s a role that Gad excels at playing.

The first roughly twenty minutes of Little Monsters, which are spent introducing us to the character of Dave long before the zombies even show up, are already hilarious, and a big part of why the film works as well as it does is because it takes time to establish its characters before it even introduces the genre element. England does a good job of carrying the film. While Dave is a slacker and perpetual screw-up who is a victim of prolonged adolescence, England’s affable portrayal of him ensures that he is still a likeable protagonist and someone that we root for on his journey into maturity.

Nyong’o flexes her acting muscles in a different way, capably handling a role that is more comedic than anything we have seen her do before, with Miss Caroline walking a fine line between being free-spirited and no-nonsense. While Little Monsters does play with a lot of gore and gross out humour, it’s also got a surprising amount of heart, and is ultimately somewhat of a feel good film. It’s an odd mix, but Forsyth has done a good job of pulling it off, adding up to an at times delightful little film that I found enjoyable to watch. If you are a fan of zombie comedies, add this one to your list.

The Blu-ray also includes a short “behind the scenes” featurette filmed by the child actors, as well as over two hours of cast and crew interviews.

Little Monsters is a VVS Films release. It’s 94 minutes and rated 14A.

Street Date: January 14th, 2020

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