Sundance 2019: Little Monsters

Diesel La Torraca, Lupita Nyong’o, Ashton Arokiaswamy, Kim Doan, Caliah Pinones, and Vivienne Albany appear in Little Monsters by Abe Forsythe, an official selection of the Midnight Program at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. Photo by Ben King.

Blending comedy with zombies down under, Little Monsters offers so much fun in viewing that it is sure to become a cult classic on the midnight circuit.

Following a fight with girlfriend Sara (Nadia Townsend), Dave Anderson (Alexander England) decides to move in with his sister, Tess (Kat Stewart), and her son, Felix (Diesel La Torraca).  His band hasn’t been together in some six years so all he does is just play music outside in hopes of making some money out of it.  Things go so badly when he tries to get back together with her that one would think all was lost but he’s soon chaperoning Felix’s kindergarten field trip after developing an interest in Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o).

The class is on a field trip to Pleasant Valley Farm where they’re bound to see Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad).  Unbeknownst to them, there’s a zombie situation across the street at the U.S. Army Testing Facility.  There are moments in this film that play so funny because the characters are oblivious to what is taking place right in front of them!  With chaos surrounding them, they have no choice but to find a place where zombies can’t enter.  The only possible option is the Pleasant Valley Souvenir Shop.  Unfortunately, Teddy has locked himself in and refuses to allow anyone to enter.  Dave breaks through the roof so the class can have shelter.

Once they get inside the shop, the waiting game begins.  With no land line and cell phones out of service, this is easier said than done.  All the while, Max (Charlie Whitley) just wants to play mini golf.  Felix, acting as Sith Lord Darth Vader, uses the Force to save the day after one possible rescue mission falls short.  The Star Wars gags are so much fun!

One major thing to take away from viewing Little Monsters is that Lupita Nyong’o can kick ass.  While we already knew this from watching Black Panther last year, she can seriously kick some zombie ass.  This film takes her from just an ordinary kindergarten teacher to an outright superhero.  Hell, anyone should want her for to be their teacher!  Where she kicks ass, Josh Gad provides some of the film’s comical relief because of the situations.  Sorry Frozen fans, Gad is the anti-Olaf here.  Given the circumstances outside due to Project Regenerations at the U.S. Army Testing Facility, a television star in a room full of kindergarten children is going off on an F-bomb tirade.  It’s so fricking hysterical!

I can totally see this film having sing-along screenings down the road since it has the potential to become a cult classic.  All three leads get the chance to shine musically.  This is a comedy so the rule of threes applies to it–in this case, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”  I’m a Taylor Swift fan so I’m not complaining at all!  Another musical thing to note: Josh Gad’s end credits song goes all the way to the very end of the credits.  You don’t want to miss it!

Make no mistake about it–Little Monsters is so much fun to watch.  Little Monsters is a film that works best by watching it with an audience.  The audience experience is what helps to make the film so much fun in viewing.  At least it did for me.

CAST:  Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Kat Stewart, Charlie Whitley, Diesel La Torraca and Josh Gad

Little Monsters held its world premiere during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section. Hulu and Neon acquired distribution rights at Sundance.  Grade: 5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.