Little Monsters (aka Petit Monstre) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
Not to be confused with the weirdly surreal kid’s film of the 1980s, Little Monsters is a zombie picture that once more puts a giddy glaze on the gruesome genre. It places bitter individuals in the situation of a zombie apocalypse where they try to survive in a quirky manner and maybe get over their own issues. It’s played light and loose with blood and guts if that statement makes any sense.
Dave (Alexander England) was once a brash musician with a fall from grace has become washed up with his career and breaking up with his girlfriend. This has led to him bunking with his sister and her little boy Felix. His love life receives a spark, however, when he drops off Felix at school and meets the lovely Kindergarten teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong'o). Smitten quick by her musical allure, Dave volunteers to help her out with a field trip to a farm.
But even before the expected zombie outbreak, things are far worse for Dave once on the field trip. Not only does he now have to put up with the annoying and cocky children’s television entertainer, Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad), crowding the event, but Dave learns that Miss Caroline is already to be wed to another. So things are already not looking swell for Dave when he not only has to survive a zombie outbreak but protects an entire class of kids from being munched on by the undead.
Little Monsters goes for a lot of the expected bits of gruesome dark comedy. The adults try to wrangle the kids together and keep them calm by ensuring them everything will be okay, despite a horde of zombies chowing down on people and animals across the farm. This leads a clashing of Caroline and Teddy, the way Caroline tries to keep a chipper spirit for the children while Teddy cusses up a storm in front of them.
There are predictable but pleasing means of tension as when Dave must venture out into a zombie-infested area to retrieve Felix’s medication and save the life of his sister’s kid. When there’s a tractor involved on the farm, you know you’re going to get some quality kills with that vehicle and this film doesn’t disappoint. And after so many zombie comedies, I gotta say it’s pretty parred for the course that a zinging musical number is what ultimately saves the day, sung by a sunny and adorable Nyong’o that even I couldn’t resist her persistent charm for a film of such tediums.
Little Monsters more or less delivered on its advertisement, for all the mild chuckles and usual motions of the poetically decaying zombie apocalypse picture. It has some witty lines here and there and brashness that, while not as biting as it could’ve been, keeps the film’s cynical sensibilities as sublime as the gore. Even for being the usual song and dance, there’s just enough song to make the dance worth doing.