Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
What do a ukulele playing kindergarten teacher, a bus full of kids, and a self proclaimed death metal stadium rocker have in common? They’re in a fight for their lives as zombies overtake a petting zoo filled with tourists and field trippers. Written and directed by Abe Forsythe, Little Monsters is an entertaining horror comedy that will delight audiences of horror and family films alike.
Dave, played by Alexander England, is a wannabe self-serving rock star who does not know how to interact in serious relationships or with children. He takes an interest in his nephew when the patient and good-natured kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline played by Lupita Nyong’o catches his eye. Bent on impressing her, Dave volunteers to chaperone a field trip to Pleasant Valley petting zoo and miniature golf course, located near a military testing facility. Miss Caroline uses sing -alongs and conga lines to help her kids navigate their way through an ever-growing legion of the undead.
The writing is great and characters are developed well in the midst of all the chaos. Dave shows he can grow as a person. He goes from using his nephew Felix as a pawn to genuinely demonstrating love as he works to comfort him and the other children. Miss Caroline demonstrates the rigors and insane responsibility of teaching as she sings “Shake it Off” while slaughtering zombies to protect her class. Underneath her floral dresses is a fierce fighter who goes above and beyond her pay grade.
Josh Gad plays children’s television host Teddy McGiggles who is a hilarious coward. While a lost man child and egotistical celebrity are not wholly original character tropes, the writing and acting by England and Gad add dimensions to their characters. They go well with Nyong’o’s stellar acting. Nyong’o is best known for her serious roles, but she pulls off great comedic timing in this film. The children are also truly charming and delightful. Diesel La Torraca gives a memorable performance as Felix whose belief in himself has amazing results.
While the film has plenty of saccharine and heartwarming moments, one cannot forget that there are some insanely scary zombies waiting to feast on the characters. The gore in this film is wonderful. Horror fans will not be disappointed. There is blood and torn body parts everywhere. The zombies are also plenty frightening, teeth are fully revealed, and Miss Caroline engages in some gruesome battles. She becomes so drenched in blood and guts she tells the kids she has to explain to the kids she was in a strawberry jam fight.
Little Monsters tells a story of ordinary people stepping up to do extraordinary things in a situation that seems entirely devoid of hope and humanity. Forsythe’s story of survival shows how people can grow and come together when disaster strikes, but also shows the grim reality that some people will always look out for themselves.
Full of heart and horror, Little Monsters delivers a story of heroes and monsters that is sure to become a Halloween classic. Little Monsters premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and opened in limited theaters October 8th. It has recently begun streaming on Hulu just in time for the Halloween season.