Film News

Sundance May Have Just Premiered the Next Great Cult Classic Zom-Com

OK, movie producers. There are 112 feature films playing at Sundance this year (out of a record-breaking 14,259 submissions). That’s a lot of content to sift through. You need to sell me on your movie and you need to sell me on it fast.

(Looks down at Sundance program)

I see there’s something called Little Monsters this year. Huh. Might want to work on that title. Some of us still remember the other Little Monsters, the proto-Monsters, Inc. WTF kids movie starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel. But, hey, your Little Monsters stars Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad. Cool. Cool, cool, cool. You’ve got my attention. Now sell me on why I should see this other than oh-look-at-the-movie-stars. Give me your best movie trailer pullquote:

(Little Monsters Producer: Think of it as Zombieland meets Kindergarten Cop.)

Not to go all Matthew Perry in Fools Rush In on you, but that sounds like everything I never knew I always wanted. Sold! I will, nay, must, nay, need to see this.

Hulu and NEON are certainly hoping I’m not the only one who feels that way.

According to Deadline, after Little Monsters premiered as part of Sundance’s Midnight Section a bidding war erupted between at least four studios. Hulu and NEON, Tim League’s newish indie distributor best known for I, Tonya, emerged the victors with a joint bid said to be in the mid-seven figures. “The plan behind the NEON-Hulu partnership still is being worked out,” Deadline explained. “It will amount to a hybrid that combines a theatrical release with massive cross promotion on the streaming platform, where the film will land.”

They didn’t use the phrase day-and-date, but it sounds like the deal will likely still lean toward defying the traditional three-month exclusive window which AMC, Regal, and other major theater chains demand. Defy that and they won’t play your movie. As such, Little Monsters might be hard to see in theaters for many, but, hey, it’ll ultimately end up on Hulu.

When all of that might actually happen is clearly still being worked out. However, those who have already seen Little Monsters rave about it. I, for example, first heard about the movie yesterday thanks to Screen Zealots’ 4.5/5-star review, which favorably compared Little Monsters to Anna and the Apocalypse in its ability to create an entirely new feel-good space for itself in the larger zombie genre.

The exact plot involves a newly single fuck-up (Alexander England) volunteering to chaperone a class field trip to impress his nephew’s effervescent kindergarten teacher (Nyong’o). But – wouldn’t you know it – there’s a nearby army base up to no-good Return of the Living Dead shenanigans, and the field trip turns into a fight for survival, with Josh Gad joining the group as a children’s TV show presenter. Screen Zealots’ Louisa Moore loved it:

Writer-director Abe Forsythe doesn’t slow down and keeps the jokes coming. There’s a frenzied energy and brisk pace to this well-made film. There are several unexpected, uproarious, applause-worthy scenes to keep the audience involved. These are characters you’ll want to actively root for. And yes, there’s even a ukulele solo to Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

For fans of the zombie genre, this low budget comedy has outstanding horror effects. Although the story is campy, the makeup never looks cheesy. It helps that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously.

“Little Monsters” is the irresistible, touching, big-hearted zombie comedy we’ve all been waiting for. It has cult classic written all over it, and is one of the highlights of the Sundance Film Festival this year.

For horror fanatics, all of this might sound awfully familiar. A zom-com involving school children? George Harrison, you want to take this one:

The “it’s been done” here is Cooties, Elijah Wood’s 2014 zom-com which also happened to first debut as part of Sundance’s Midnight Section. The difference is Cooties is a students vs. teachers metaphor in which beleaguered teachers have to fend off their newly cannibalistic students, which doesn’t appear to be the case with Little Monsters. This video interview with the director promises something much different and better than Cooties:

(And, to think, before yesterday I was relatively certain Lupita Nyong’o was only going to be in one horror movie this year. Now it’s up to two with Us and Little Monsters.)

Combine that cast, logline and promising footage in the above video with Louisa’s rave review and you end up with something I truly can’t wait to see.

What about you? Is Little Monsters now on your radar? Or have you been flashing back this entire time to vague memories of the 1989 Little Monsters and wondering if it still holds up? My guess: No, it does not, but I bet you this new Little Monsters does. Either way, let me know what you think in the comments. 

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