Sundance 2019: “Little Monsters” Review

Diesel La Torraca, Lupita Nyong’o, Ashton Arokiaswamy, Kim Doan, Caliah Pinones, Vivienne Albany, and Jack Schuback 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.

Sundance 2019: “Little Monsters” Review

Little Monsters stars Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Alexander England, and Diesel La Torraca. Dave (Alexander England) is a wayward musician who, after a recent break up with his longtime girlfriend, goes to live with his sister and her young son, Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Not equipped to handle or be around a five-year-old child, Dave tends to be a little over the top with his language and colorful descriptions. As a mea culpa for taking Felix to his ex-girlfriend’s house and having him accidentally witness sexual relations between the ex and a new man, Dave has to take and pick up Felix from kindergarten.

Once at Felix’s school, Dave meets Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), Felix’s teacher. Desperate to gain her favor, he volunteers as a chaperone for their field trip to the Pleasant Valley Farm where they see children’s show star, Teddy MaGiggle (Josh Gad). Unbeknownst to them, an experiment on a U.S. Army base is in full swing, and a tragic accident would send zombies descending upon the children and Pleasant Valley Farm. As the children are in danger and the rest of the farm taken over by zombies, Dave, Miss Caroline, and the reluctant Teddy must work together to save the children and themselves from unthinkable horrors.

The casting in this film is undoubtedly perfection. Lupita embodies everything that a kindergarten teacher must be. She is kind, warm, sweet, understanding, patient, and a total badass who will kick some zombie ass for her children. She gives the children hope and safety while being a powerful and independent woman. She doesn’t hide behind these male characters but forges the way in many aspects.

England has that alluring guarded bad boy vibe to him that brings audiences to his side, despite his lewd behavior. His charm and charisma win over the audience as we learn more about his character.

Additionally, there is something cathartic about Gad playing a children’s show character who is secretly jaded and bitter. He nails those moments where he must become Teddy, with the help of some crazy eyes and tons of hair product and makeup. Gad balances it out by acting as the irreverent and selfish man that he is. His performance is hilarious and multifaceted, proving what an incredibly talented actor he is.

Finally, The young but engaging actor, Diesel La Torraca is terrific in his role. He encapsulates the innocence but also the strength and resilience of children.

The writing in the film is witty and sharp with incredible self-awareness. It knows exactly what it is and what it wants to be, really going for it full throttle. Writer and director, Abe Forsythe introduced the film saying it was a very personal project for him, and his attention to every detail shines through in the film. It is a total blast from start to finish, surprising and delighting the audience at every turn.

Little Monsters is non-stop laughs, featuring Taylor Swift songs, nursery rhymes and oh yeah, bloodthirsty zombies. This is the most insanely horrifying and hilarious film of Sundance.

Written by
Ashley Menzel is an avid film lover and lives in Los Angeles, CA. She loves foreign films and dramas and reading books that have film adaptations. Her favorite movie of all time is One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. She loves Doctor Who, Supernatural, iZombie, and Grimm.

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