Hulu’s newest movie “Little Monsters,” directed by Abe Forsythe (“Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War”), is an ambitious, comical addition to the zombie movie genre that never quite hits the mark. The hero of the story is Dave, played by Alexander England (“Alien: Covenant,” “Gods of Egypt”), a washed-up rock star who argues constantly with his girlfriend, Sara, played by Nadia Townsend (“Fireflies”). Unfortunately, nothing innovative or new is brought to the table with this character archetype of the washed-up rock star. Although England’s Dave is easy to empathize and laugh with, his story is nothing new.
The beginning is a little slow as the audience sees Dave’s life. There are numerous unnecessary scenes of arguments between Dave and Sara set to music that go on for a couple minutes each. The story begins to pick up when Dave moves in with his sister, Tess, who is played by Kat Stewart (“Offspring,” “Underbelly”) and his 5-year-old nephew, Felix, played by newcomer Diesel La Torraca.
Some of the best scenes in the movie are those featuring England and Torraca, especially one scene where England dresses up Torraca in a Darth Vader costume.
The zombies finally appear around the time Dave volunteers to help out during Felix’s school trip to spend time with Felix’s teacher, the smiley and happy Miss Caroline, played by Lupita Nyong’o (“Us,” “Black Panther”). The audience sees two storylines happening simultaneously at this point in the movie. We get the perspective of the military, led by a strict army general played by Marshall Napier (“The Beast,” “The Light Between Oceans”), and Dave’s perspective with the class of kids at the petting zoo theme park.
The action scenes of our heroes fighting zombies, which are normally expected from this genre, are largely absent. There’s a scene with the military fighting off the zombies and an excellent fight scene with Nyong’o’s Miss Caroline, but otherwise, there is less gore than usual for a zombie film. I wish Forsythe had played up the horror aspect of the movie a bit more. The zombies look scary, but they don’t move fast enough to be terrifying.
There are some positives about Forsythe’s horror-comedy, including the jokes. The scene where Felix and his classmates first meet television show personality Teddy McGiggle, played by Josh Gad (“Frozen,” “Beauty and the Beast”) is hilarious and adorable.
The scenes with the kids are particularly great. The performances of Beth, Felix’s girlfriend, played by Ava Caryofyllis (“Hearts and Bones”), and newcomer Charlie Whitley’s Max, who just wants to play mini-golf, are some of the high points of the film.
Whenever Nyong’o’s Miss Caroline pulls out her ukelele, the audience sees these sweet moments of the kids singing along to Taylor Swift while trying to forget about the zombies running amok. The heart of the film is really the relationships between the kids and the adults. Dave learns how to care for another human being by protecting his nephew, Felix, and Miss Caroline protects the kids from all of the horror going on around them through songs and kind words.
The movie comes in at about 94 minutes, and there are some scenes that definitely need to be cut. The scenes with the military are funny, but they do not add much to the rest of the movie. The scenes give the audience too much information about the zombies which makes them significantly less scary. During those scenes, I wanted to know what the other characters were doing.
Overall, the movie does not bring anything new to the zombie genre. Although I could empathize with England’s Dave, his character’s story was too familiar to be interesting. The idea of Nyong’o’s Miss Caroline, a preschool teacher that has to fight off zombies, is unique. I wish the character had been used as more than just a way for Dave’s character to develop. Forsythe also could have done more with Gad’s Teddy McGiggle. The movie had many fresh new ideas, but they were put together in a way that made it feel too similar to other movies from the genre. I could not tell if the zombies were supposed to be scary or funny until the end. I think there are movies out there with a better blend of comedy and horror than this one.