A school trip goes awry when zombies attack kindergarteners in Abe Forsythe’s (Down Under) horror comedy Little Monsters. Lupita Nyong’o (Us) and Alexander England (Alien: Covenant) play the responsible (or not so responsible, in the latter’s case) adults charged with defending the kids on their field trip. Nyong’o shoulders the extra responsibility of carrying the film as it wearily struggles to entertain.
For a self-styled zombie comedy, Little Monsters is scarily short of laughs and equally lacking in scares. England plays our protagonist, Dave, who, with pretensions to being a singer-songwriter, has fallen on hard times. Immature, selfish and potty-mouthed, he’s hardly a role model for his five-year-old nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca). But hitting his nadir forces Dave to stay with his sister, setting in motion a redemptive storyline.
These moments with his nephew provide the film’s biggest laughs and showcases the sharper end of the screenwriting. Paradoxically, their relationship often throws up the cheapest laughs too, but that’s par for the course in a film that cashes in so readily on tired jokes. It’s unclear who this film is supposed to appeal to. Its comic appeal is infinitesimal, while any attempts to instil fear in viewers will always be punctured by the levity of crude gags.
Back to Dave and his bumbling attempts to land on his feet. Felix inadvertently introduces our protagonist to Miss Caroline (Nyong’o), a pretty kindergarten teacher wielding a ukulele and boundless charm. It’s a ray of hope for Dave, as well as for the audience. Nyong’o is a bright spot throughout, further cementing her reputation as a brilliant horror actor.
A prosaic plot plods along as Dave volunteers himself for a kindergarten field trip. Cue disaster when zombies attack, forcing Dave and the apparently prim Miss Caroline to fight back with contrasting character arcs. Around the time Miss Caroline loosens up and Dave grows up, Josh Gad (Frozen) enters as further comic relief. Again, the acting is commendable, but the material Gad is working with renders him an unfunny buffoon.
The conceit of Little Monsters was doubtless that it offered a different spin on the relatively new subgenre of zom-com. Disappointingly, it swerves around originality in favour of tired gags more closely associated with standard-fare comedies, and the jokes wear thin quick.
Little Monsters is released nationwide on 15th November 2019.
Watch the trailer for Little Monsters here: