“Who remembers how to play tag? Well those funny-looking people out there are it.” This is how Lupita Nyong’o’s character in the movie Little Monsters describes zombies to a group of kindergartners on a school trip. The star of Jordan Peele’s Us builds up her horror resumé by taking on the role of Miss Caroline, a teacher that must sing, dance, and dismember zombie hordes to make sure her students don’t end up being food for the undead. She must also make sure her students remain oblivious to the fact these zombies don’t play the same version of tag we all know and love.
Little Monsters (not the 1989 movie of the same name starring Fred Savage) is an Australian-American-British horror comedy, written and directed by Abe Forsythe. Forsythe also directed Ned (2003), a satire about Australian Outlaw Ned Kelly. Actors Josh Gad and Alexander England star alongside Nyong’o. Here’s the red band trailer:
Forsythe’s movie will inevitably draw comparisons with Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead due to it also being a horror comedy playing off classic zombie tropes that, at this moment in time, are quite recognizable. It is interesting, though, that the zombies invasion in Little Monsters takes place in a petting zoo rather than a mall or a pub. The setting looks like fertile ground for comedy and the expense of some very gruesome but silly animal violence. One of the scenes featured in the trailer sees a zombie with a mouthful of spines sticking out after eating an echidna.
As a teacher myself, I could potentially see where the movie wants to take its message. The amount of pressure that is put on teachers on student safety on trips is terrifying. Something happens to a kid on a trip and the only job left open to you will be dusting sand off a beach. Clearly, there’s an extra layer of fear for teachers who watch this movie.
Zombie comedy are not entirely rare and we have been getting quite a few of them in these past years. Just this year we had Jim Jarmusch’s The Dead Don’t Die, which didn’t particularly wow critics but still got a few chuckles out there to at least merit a rental when it comes out. One of the best zombie comedies of recent years came from Cuba. It’s called Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead in Spanish), written and directed by Alejandro Brugués. The movies contrasts Cuba’s economic situation with the zombie apocalypse to hint at the idea that the undead might not make the country that much worse. It is a witty, well-acted, and funny take on the zombie formula that ends up being more politically charged than it appears to be.
Little Monsters premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and currently holds a 93 percent “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Forsythe described the movie as “an R-rated Pixar movie.” The movie hits theaters in the UK on November 15th of this year. No official date has been announced for the US release, but Neon and Hulu acquired the domestic rights to the film. It’s only a matter of time until we get that release date.
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