- Nikki Baughan
- 8 October 2019
LFF 2019: Lupita Nyong'o is typically superb in this entertaining zom-com
After giving one of the year's most memorable performances in Jordan Peele's identity horror Us, Lupita Nyong'o puts in another superb turn in Little Monsters. In fact, she is far and away the best thing in Abe Forsythe's blood-spattered Australian comedy which, nevertheless, offers a colourful and entertaining take on the zombie movie.
Nyong'o is sunny primary school teacher Miss Caroline, who leads a school trip to the local farm with several young kids and accompanying adult Dave (Alexander England), the smitten slacker uncle of the impossibly cute Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Unfortunately, the farm is located next to a US Army Base, where biological testing has resulted in a zombie outbreak. Cue bloody mayhem.
As the walking dead continue to lumber across the big and small screens, flesh-eating fatigue is undoubtedly starting to set in. There's enough here, however, to keep the story moving along apace, with writer-director Forsythe mining the off-kilter humour for all it's worth.
The idea that Miss Caroline must not only keep the children safe but also protect them from the reality of the situation is particularly neat, even if it is played more for laughs rather than as a way of exploring the psychological impact of trauma. After she single-handedly dispatches a horde of zombies, for example, Miss Caroline explains away the blood on her bright yellow dress as 'lots of jam'. She plays uplifting Taylor Swift songs on her ukulele as the undead moan along outside.
If Nyong'o completely steals the show – and stops the premise running out of steam – England is charming enough as Dave, although the idea of a deadbeat guy finally doing something honourable in order to impress an incredible woman is nothing new. Josh Gad makes for an appealingly awful villain as Teddy McGiggle, a hateful children's entertainer struggling with his own monstrous demons. And while Little Monsters lays the humour on thick, it doesn't scrimp on the horror; a death at the hands of a zombie glove puppet is perhaps the most ludicrously grotesque thing you'll see this year.
Screening on Sat 5, Mon 7 and Tue 8 Oct as part of the BFI London Film Festival 2019. General release from Fri 15 Nov.