Directed by: #AbeForsythe
Written by: #AbeForsythe
Since its release in 2004, Shaun of the Dead has had a significant influence on pop culture and the horror-comedy scene. What made the film so great was its numerous and informed classic zombie-movie references, its ability to weave comedy and horror effectively, and its unapologetically British nature. And while it’s been the inspiration for several similar films, the really successful ones have become so by playing to their own strengths. Ruben Fleischer achieved this with his 2009 movie, Zombieland, by turning a distinctly British idea into a distinctly American one.
Which brings me nicely to Abe Forsythe’s distinctly Australian zom com Little Monsters; a film that started out life as a tribute to his son’s pre-school teacher. And it’s this which forms the core of this movie: the underpaid, overworked pre-school teacher’s dedication to protecting the innocence and, indeed, the very lives of her pupils. Miss Caroline is her name (played by the ever amazing Lupita Nyong’o), and she’s as fierce as she is caring.
A point fully demonstrated when a class field trip to a farm descends into chaos after a zombie outbreak at the conveniently just next door American army base. But Miss Caroline isn’t alone. Failed musician/slacker type, Dave (Alexander England), the last person in the world who should be responsible for children – and who’s only there in the first place to be closer to his nephew’s (Diesel La Torraca) teacher – is on-hand to lend assistance. As is children’s TV personality, Teddy McGiggle (A wonderfully slimy performance from Josh Gad) – actually, this is the last person in the world who should be responsible for children – whose love of his job comes less from entertaining children and more from sleeping with their mums.
Thanks to some excellent comedic writing and respect for the genre, Little Monsters succeeds where a lot of horror-comedies fail: that is in its balance of violence and humour. Many films are guilty of neglecting one over the other (usually toning down the violence) and end up feeling tonally disjointed. But Forsythe strikes a delicate balance here. While one could accuse Little Monsters of being ‘too safe’, it doesn’t shy away from being properly gory when it needs to be. To that end, a mixture of SFX and CGI permeate the movie and both, generally, are very good. Although there are moments where the CGI is a little too apparent, this never becomes a big issue.
But there’s a surprising amount of warmth to be found here, as well as many genuinely laugh-out-loud moments of comedy. Indeed, Writer/Director Abe Forsythe weaves together threads of sublime Australian humour, good old fashioned zombie-film gore, and sincere sentiment almost faultlessly. Little Monsters, may well be the best horror-comedy film in years. And, for my money, it’s the best zombie movie we’ve had since 2017’s Anna and the Apocalypse. But more than that, Little Monsters is a heartfelt tribute to our often overworked and underpaid school teachers and a testament to the difference they make in the lives of our children.