VOD film review: Little Monsters
Martyn Conterio | On 14, Nov 2019
Director: Abe Forsythe
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Alexander England
Watch Little Monsters online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
In the same year Jim Jarmusch’s deadpan comedy The Dead Don’t Die went out of its way to satirise zombie movie narratives and their reliance on a trusted basic formula, Little Monsters looks exactly the intended target for Jarmusch’s snickering barb. There is nothing unexpected in Abe Forsythe’s second feature film; it’s something we’ve seen hundreds of times before and then some. There’s a zombie outbreak, the ravenous hordes feast on the living, a band of survivors fight to stay off the menu, yadda yadda yadda.
Where Forsythe’s script comes good, though, is its mixture of disarming sweetness and crass humour. Set mostly on a children’s educational farm out in the sticks, stars Lupita Nyong’o and Alexander England sparkle together as a kindly school teacher and a layabout man-child, who’s learning how not to be a total loser. The unfolding nightmare is really the catalyst for blossoming romance, the theme of emotional rebirth and taking stock of life. The film doesn’t really go in for gore and gut-munching as much as the gooeyness of love, the transformative power of finding your soulmate, while hinting at a darker subtext: the stereotypical mindset of men wanting a woman in the bedroom and a mother in the kitchen.
Dave (Alexander England) is your typical Aussie bloke. Kicked out of the house by his girlfriend because he’s a commitment-phobe, the thirtysomething is sofa-surfing at his older sister’s apartment, when one day he’s asked to take nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca) to school. Initially aggravated by the chore, he changes his tune upon meeting the beautiful and sunny Miss Audrey Caroline (Nyong’o). Falling head over obsession, Dave manages to wangle his way onto a school trip to Pleasant Valley, a farm and miniature golf facility… which just so happens to neighbour a US military base conducting malevolent experiments. Before you can say “zombie apocalypse”, Dave and Miss Caroline are fending off hungry, hungry revenants and protecting the students by pretending everything occurring is part of an elaborate game.
Little Monsters gets plenty of comedy mileage from Dave’s horndog enthusiasm for ukulele-playing Miss Caroline, a character initially idealised as saintly and radiating pure sunshine. In her bright yellow dress soaked in blood – in one scene she tells the kids she got involved in a strawberry jam fight – Audrey possesses a no-nonsense, kickass spirit when the going gets zombie.
Whereas, at first, little differentiates Dave from Felix and his classmates; he’s a big kid acting like life is conspiring against him and he objectifies Miss Caroline for his own base desires. As the body count grows and the salivating undead claw at the doors, he begins to recognise Audrey is special, maybe even The One, and way more than a fantasy figure. Dave’s character arc is achieved by ridding himself of his arrested development, stereotypical thinking and growing up. In the midst of flesh-eating creatures and imminent death, the boy proves himself a man.
Little Monsters is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW, as part of an £11.99 NOW Cinema Membership subscription.