Director: Abe Forsythe
Writer: Abe Forsythe
Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad, Diesel La Torraca
Producers: Jessica Calder, Keith Calder, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea
Music: Piers Burbrook de Vere
Cinematography: Lachlan Milne
Editors: Jim May, Drew Thompson
Cert: 15 (TBC)
Running time: 94mins
What’s the story: After a zombie outbreak at a US military base, a kindergarten teacher and the uncle of one of the kids must protect her class as flesh-eaters descend on a New South Wales petting zoo.
What’s the verdict: Understandable if the arrival of another zombie comedy creates a chorus of undead-like groans. But, the Australian Little Monsters packs in enough laughs and charm for it to sit comfortably in a triple bill with Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland.
Though maybe not on a double outing with the more family-friendly Fred Savage-starring Little Monsters from 1989…
Lupita Nyong’o lets herself have a ball (and bust some superhero style moves) as Miss Caroline, a kindergarten teacher protecting her class when a petting zoo outing turns up a different kind of wildlife. While her reason for ending up down under is an origins story we wouldn’t mind seeing.
In tow is super-boor Dave (Alien: Covenant’s England), who runs a fine line between rogue and total scumbag. Uncle to Felix (La Torraca), Dave volunteers to chaperone primarily because he’s hot for teacher.
Writer/director Forsythe offers up comedic meat via Dave unleashing verbal filth in front of the Year One-ers and using a picture of Miss Caroline in a class photo for all the wrong reasons. It all seems less offensive when the Aussies do it.
When the story requires Dave to step up for the kids, Josh Gad is on hand as Teddy McGiggle, a misanthropic kid’s TV star. Comically self-pitying and gleefully self-centred, he’s also not above swigging meths to take the edge off.
Where Little Monsters slips is on the innards of tonal imbalance. The kids are adorable and unabashedly family friendly moments pepper the movie. But, f-bombs, c-bombs, graphic gore and Teddy McGiggle’s fulsome retelling of numerous sexploits keep this top shelf and away from young eyes. Unless those eyes belong to a kid with an uncle like Dave.
As adults only entertainment this never dips below a raucous blood n’ guts good time. Forsythe’s script divides heroics between Miss Caroline (whose durable yellow frock could be a comic book hero’s costume), Dave and another character we’ll not spoil here. He can also stage comic-horror set-pieces with the panache of an Edgar Wright or Jon Landis.
The script also manages fresh twists on zombie clichés and makes space for knowing dialogue: “Fast ones or slow ones?” enquires a weary military man when discovering there’s been another zombie outbreak.
ParaNorman remains the best zombie film the whole family can enjoy. But, this is a worthy companion to 2018’s best zombie comedy, One Cut of the Dead.