It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 2008, 2009 (a bad year), 2010, 2011, 2012 (when we left the blog behind), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.

Here there be spoilers.

Little Monsters is a film that I was really looking forward to, mainly because it stars Lupita Nyong’o. The concept was a solid one, a school teacher taking her kindergarten class on a field trip to a petting zoo has to protect them from a zombie outbreak. The trailers looked fun and Nyong’o is simply a joy in everything I’ve seen her in. The film is written and directed by Australian filmmaker Abe Forsythe and co-stars precious Forsythe collaborator Alexander England and American comedian Josh Gad as a popular children’s entertainer who is also trapped at the park. The trailers looked pretty solid.

As it turns out, there’s about a half hour of movie that is totally disregarded in the trailer. The first half hour, actually. The first third of the movie is entirely devoted to establishing what a horrible, selfish piece of shit Alexander England’s character Dave is, beginning the horribly off-putting opening sequence, which is a long montage of he and his girlfriend shouting at each other in a variety of settings, until finally they break up.

From there we learn that not only is he shitty at romantic relationships, he’s also living in the past glory of being in a rock band that broke up nearly a decade prior, and he’s a shitty brother to a sister who took care of him and practically raised him. Oh, and he’s a shitty uncle, swearing and mocking Felix’s (Diesel La Torraca) food allergies and waking him up in the middle of the night to – I shit you not – dress like Darth Vader and deliver a marriage proposal scrawled on the inside of a pizza box to the previously established now ex-girlfriend. As fate would have it, they walk in on her having sex with someone new, and when Dave tries to fight him, it turns out he’s shitty at that too.

In an attempt to placate his sister, who is ready to kick him out of her apartment, he agrees to take Felix to school, where we finally meet Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o). From the moment she appears on-screen, she takes full control. She’s full of energy and is a bright light suddenly appearing in a see of miserable shit. Of course, Dave wants to fuck her. He flirts shittily and then we get to see the wonderful moment where he masturbates to her picture in a photo with the entire kindergarten class that he has snuck off the wall in Felix’s room.

As you can probably guess, this means that the focus of the film isn’t actually on Miss Catherine as the trailers might lead you to believe, but instead on this shitty white guy’s redemption arc with Miss Catherine as sort of this prize for becoming a better person. And in a surprise to absolutely nobody, Josh Gad’s Teddy McGiggle is an even worse person than Dave, so we get to set up that contrast and start to think, maybe Dave isn’t as bad as we thought.

Although there’s really nothing in the film up to that point to even hint to the fact that there’s anything good or unselfish about him. But hey, at least he’s not an alcoholic, verbally abusive entertainer who has had sex with hundreds of moms who’ve brought their kids to see his show.

Oh wait. Dave is totally a verbally abusive entertainer who would not hesitate to have sex with hundreds of moms. He might be an alcoholic too, but we don’t really delve into that.

So, yeah. The fist third of this movie is a shit show, and I was seriously considering turning it off and trying to find something else to watch instead. But it was late, it was Easter, and I was tired, so I stuck with it.

And it wasn’t the worst decision of this year’s Easter Zombie Movie Marathon.

This is mainly because once we get to the petting zoo, Little Monsters becomes the Lupita Nyong’o show as the neighboring military base, which has been experimenting with reanimating corpses has a break out, so a horde of zombies make their way next door to the petting zoo (which also features a putt-putt golf course, where a group of Asian tourists meet their grisly end).

I’m not going to go into a whole lot of detail about this back half of the film, as it’s actually worth seeing for yourself. You may want to fast forward through the first part and just pick it up as they arrive at the park. From this point on we get a lot of nicely done gore scenes, a number of semi-graphic zombie kills, at least two or three well-choreographed action sequences, as well as some very intense moments with the kids (one of which is caused entirely because Dave is such a shitty person).

Teddy McGiggle is a bit too much for me, but your mileage may vary. It depends on how funny you think swearing violently at children is. It’s pretty obvious that there are no kids actually on set when Gad goes off – repeatedly – and it really only serves to make sure there’s someone in the film who’s a worse person than Dave is. There’s a romantic sub-plot between Dave and Miss Catherine that is awkward as hell in the beginning, and then comes to a pretty mainstream traditional conclusion without really earning it.

Apparently you just have to be able to put some scared kids to bed and sing them a song to win Miss Catherine’s heart. Although, to be fair, with the way the ending is set up, there’s no guarantee that they’re going to stick together. I can’t imagine that there’s anything that occurred in the twenty four hours that they were surrounded by zombies that would be able to actually change Dave’s lifetime of shitty life choices and selfish behavior.

Oh well. At least they all bond over Neil Diamond and Taylor Swift.

I will say this, though. Lupita Nyong’o is brilliant. Whenever she’s on screen, you simply can’t take your eyes off her. And while the beginning of Little Monsters is hard to get through, and the emotional ending might not really be earned, there’s not a single minute of her performance that doesn’t shine. She’s already an established superstar talent and I’m on-board to see whatever she does next, which apparently is a lot of producing and starring in her own projects, as well as starring in a mainstream spy-thriller, I assume returning for Black Panther 2, and starring in another film by Forsythe – this time a science fiction comedy. Hopefully for that one, she’ll actually be the star and not the vehicle for someone else’s character development.

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