Firstpost at Sundance: Aussie zomcom Little Monsters proves there's still life left in the undead

Prahlad Srihari

Feb 04, 2019 09:34:21 IST

Zombieland: Double Tap may be the year's most awaited zomcom but until its release in October, Little Zombies should more than appease your hunger. A film with brains, guts and plenty of heart, Little Zombies acts as a refreshing palate cleanser between the more serious indies at Sundance Film Festival 2019.

Firstpost at Sundance: Aussie zomcom Little Monsters proves theres still life left in the undead

(From L-R) Diesel La Torraca, Lupita Nyong’o, Ashton Arokiaswamy, Kim Doan, Caliah Pinones, Vivienne Albany and Jack Schuback in Little Monsters by Abe Forsythe, an official selection of the Midnight Program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | Photo by Ben King

Aussie director Abe Forsythe's horror-comedy turns the morbid into cute as a kindergarten teacher and a struggling musician try to protect a class of children amid a zombie outbreak.

David (Alexander England) is a potty-mouthed, man-child slacker who is dumped by his girlfriend due to his commitment issues and their frequent sparring matches. So, he moves in with his sister Sara (Nadia Townsend) and nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca), on whom he is a terrible influence — subjecting the young boy to the R-rated realm of profanity, nudity and graphic video game violence.

Having taken a liking to his nephew's kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o), he volunteers to chaperone for their class trip to Pleasant Valley Farm, a local petting zoo. But a zombie outbreak in the next door US military base (because why not?) spills over to Pleasant Valley, leaving them trapped in the gift shop — with an obnoxious kid's television entertainer Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad) and — besieged by a horde of hungry zombies.

Little Monsters' premise might have seemed novel in the pre-Shaun of the Dead era but in today's zomcom-saturated age, it's as formulaic as it gets in terms of narrative or its antihero redemption arc. While it doesn't exactly breathe new life into the genre, it subverts our expectations at every turn with some hilarious and heartwarming moments.

Alexander England, from left, Lupita Nyong'o and Josh Gad pose at the premiere of the film "Little Monsters" during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019, in Park City, Utah. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP)

(From L-R) Alexander England, Lupita Nyong'o and Josh Gad pose at the premiere of Little Monsters during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. Image from AP/Danny Moloshok

Relying on her playful nature and streetsmarts, Miss Caroline manages to convince the innocent children by spinning the illusion that it is all part of a game of tag. She explains that the blood (from decapitating zombies) on her yellow dress is nothing but strawberry jam and distracts them with Taylor Swift songs (be prepared for "Shake it Off" to get stuck in your head yet again) when they're scared. It is a refreshing change-of-pace role for Nyong'o and she gives it a genuine emotional power that separates Little Zombies from most other silly zomcoms.

Credit must also go to Forsythe for pulling off a horror comedy that is unapologetically optimistic and cheerful. He plays by the genre rules — paying lip service to the Romero school of zombies — when he needs to and adds his own Aussie blend of dark comedy when required.

With smart writing, a likable leading lady, and great comic timing, Little Monsters proves that there's still life left in the undead.

Director: Abe Forsythe
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca, Charlie Whitley, Stephen Peacocke, Nadia Townsend
Rating: ★★★½

Updated Date: Feb 08, 2019 07:01:26 IST

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