Writer and director Abe Forsythe's Little Monsters is currently showing at this year's SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas, and is one of the event's most must-see titles. Described as "Zombieland meets Kindergarten Cop," the movie is just as hysterical as it is bloody. But despite its raunchy comedy and horror elements, Little Monsters is oddly enough a feelgood movie as well. Full of heart, humor, horrific zombies, and cute animals, the movie is highly entertaining from beginning to end and is certainly a title you will not regret watching.
In the movie, Alexander England plays Dave, a washed-up musician who lives with his sister (Kat Stewart) and her 5-year-old son Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Dave is perhaps not the best role model for Felix, yet it's hard not to feel for the guy who's clearly down on his luck. Completely directionless, things seem like they couldn't be worse for Dave with his sister threatening to kick him out. However, hoping to impress both his sister and his nephew's kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o), Dave agrees to chaperone a field trip with the children to a local petting zoo. Unfortunately, it's located right next door to a government testing facility, where zombies manage to break free and head straight towards the zoo which is sprawling with tourists and children.
Little Monsters works so well as a horror comedy because of the interesting juxtaposition it provides. The horror is handled very well, as the zombies look fantastic and the characters take the situation very seriously. Miss Caroline is so intent on saving the children in her class and making them feel safe, she does all she can to hide the fact that they're all in grave danger. This makes for lots of interesting improvising on her end, including placing a straw beard on a zombie to hide its disfigured face from the kids. Clearly, there are many absurd moments in the movie, yet the horror of the situation always seems very real to the characters facing it.
While Josh Gad is best known to children as the voice of Olaf from the Frozen movies, he is anything but kid-friendly in Little Monsters. He portrays a children's TV character known as Teddy McGiggle, who's doing a live event at the petting zoo. Despite how his TV character would fit right in with Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, the real Teddy McGiggle is actually the crudest character in the movie. Surrounded by zombies, McGiggle makes no effort to keep it clean around the children, often screaming profanities and ranting about how everybody is going to die. A cowardly alcoholic, McGiggle is certainly one of the funniest characters in the movie, and provided a plethora of hilarious moments that actually had me in tears.
I also cannot stress enough just how amazing Lupita Nyong'o is in this movie, as she can flawlessly go from decapitating zombies to singing songs with a ukulele. One of her go-to tunes is Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off," which all of the children know by heart. It's oddly enough the perfect song to use for the movie, and it's worked very well into the story in multiple memorable moments. You'll just have to watch it to see what I mean. After the SXSW premiere, Nyong'o addressed in a Q&A how director Abe Forsythe had been struggling to get the rights for the song. Nyong'o then emailed Swift personally about it, and the pop singer approved its usage. It was just one of the many ways all of the elements of this movie combined to make a perfect storm.
Little Monsters should be seen as one of the very best zom-com movies ever, right up there with Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. It's violent and raunchy, yet charming with a lot of heart. NEON and Hulu recently obtained the distribution rights to the movie, and the plan is to widely release it both theatrically and on the Hulu streaming service. You're guaranteed to have a fun time watching Little Monsters, so be sure to watch the movie on the big or small screen as soon as it's available.