DIR/WRI: Abe Forsythe • DOP: Lachlan Milne • ED: Jim May, Drew Thompson • DES: Jeff Sherriff • PRO: Jessica Calder, Keith Calder, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea • MUS: Piers Burbrook de Vere • DES: Sam Hobbs • CAST: Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Stephen Peacocke
Just when you think the zombie comedy genre is dead or is that undead?. Following hot on the heels of the vacuous zombie comedy, Zombieland, Double Tap, comes the zombie comedy, Little Monsters an Aussie undead effort more in keeping with Shaun of the Dead. Sharing a similar feckless protagonist and good old fashioned slow-moving zombie types. What it doesn’t have is that film’s cleverness or humour.
Alexander England plays Dave, a busker, and by the end of the opening credits a single man; having spent the opening credits montage warring with his girlfriend for reasons that are explained later in the film but won’t be explained here. Soon he is burdening his hardworking, single sister and her gluten-intolerant, five-year-old son, Felix, who thinks Dave is great. The selfish, obnoxious Dave has to bring Felix to school and whilst there he falls in lust with Felix’s teacher Miss Caroline, played by Lupita Nyong’o, a sweet and diligent kindergarten teacher adored by her pupils.
Before you can shake a koala off a eucalyptus branch, Dave is volunteering to be a chaperone for his nephew and classmates on an excursion to Pleasant Valley, a petting zoo type affair. Soon the local American army base has lost their resident zombies and Pleasant Valley is awash with the undead. Miss Caroline and Dave must step up to the mark and make sure no fatalities arise amongst their charges. You can see where this is going. What better way for Dave to lose his obnoxious attitude and get the girl, than by getting dropped into the heart of a zombie epidemic scenario?
Unfortunately Little Monsters doesn’t have as much to offer as one might hope for. After setting its stakes high with the notion of safeguarding children and fighting off zombies, it doesn’t go anywhere interesting with the idea. In fact, it pretty much does what’s expected. The main thrust of humour is bold-boy verbiage, which feels tired and potty-mouthed. On the plus side, I have to say I marvelled at the performances from the school children, especially from Diesel Torraca as Felix. The adults, on the other hand, are a mixed bag. Lupita Nyong’o has very little to do despite being the main selling point marketing-wise and Josh Gad doesn’t have much to do other than be more obnoxious than Alexander England so we can see his transformation a little better.
It’s not a dead loss, or should I say undead loss, and the Halloween season mood might make audiences a bit more forgiving.
16 (see IFCO for details)
Little Monsters is released 15th November 2019