I have deliberately been avoiding zombie-comedies over the past few years, because there has been a massive over-offer of those since, say, 15 years and because - let's face it - the vast majority of them of utter rubbish. Initially, I also hadn't planned to see "Little Monsters", but I had to occasion to attend the premiere at the Brussels International Film Festival, and it's always a lot more fun to watch such a type of film alongside a big & enthusiast crowd at a festival. Perhaps I just was in very tolerant mood, but Abe Forsythe's "Little Monsters" is very entertaining and has a surprisingly large number of positive aspects going for it!
The plot is fair but standard: a stereotypical loser in his late twenties, the kind that still hopes he will eventually make it as a rock star, joins his nephew's class on a field trip to the petting zoo to impress the boy's stunningly hot teacher Miss Caroline. During the day, zombies escape from a nearby military research facility and stumble their way to the zoo. Evidently, the selfish rock-musician will have to turn into a genuine hero to safeguard all children from the flesh-hungry living dead!
What I really appreciated about "Little Monsters" is that the comedy is primarily generated through the characters and via situational humor, instead of via cheap slapstick and over-the-top gore like in most "zomedies". The funniest parts of the film are even in the first half hour, when there isn't a zombie in sight yet and the story still centers on Uncle Dave taking care of his 5-year-old nephew and trying to win his girlfriend back. Another very imaginative aspect is that Miss Caroline (multi-talented beauty Lupita Nyong'o) spontaneously decides not to tell children that they are trapped in the middle of a zombie outbreak. Instead, she explains it's a sort of game and part of the excursion, which makes "Little Monsters" sort of the "La Vita È Bella/Life is Beautiful" of zombie movies.
Of course, "Little Monsters" does remain a derivative zombie flick and thus cannot escape the use of several dreadful cliches and idiotic twists. Sure, in a country as enormous as Australia, the military zone where they experiment with zombie viruses has to be located at less than 500 meters of a children's animal park! The zombie outbreak is the most random and unexplained one in history, by the way, but I don't mind that too much. You are also warmly invited to just accept that ravenous zombies are not capable to tear down a simple wooden gift shop, crawl through a gate with massive holes or apprehend the slowest driving tractor in the world. But the biggest and most irritating cliche that Forsythe included, and the only one that actually bothered me, was the character of Teddy McGiggle. We get it now: when in mortal danger, the masks of sympathetic celebrities fall off and they turn out to be loathsome, cowardly and egocentric bastards. Don't worry, though, as they always get what they deserve.