For the Girls
Honoring all of the Women and Girls in Film
Zombie comedies are an entertaining group of films that contain some of the oldest, most comedy-worthy monsters in horror history. They shake you to the core with laughter, and they almost always have a heart-warming story line that drives their popularity through the decades. From Shaun of the Dead's story of friendship, Warm Bodies' romance story, and Life After Beth's coming to terms with loss and mourning, zombie comedies are some of the best stories about the undead reminding us how to be human.
Recently, Hulu released their original film starring Lupita N'yongo, Little Monsters. 'Sweet Caroline' has a whole new meaning in this zom-com. Little Monsters (2019) is about elementary school teacher Miss Caroline and her class taking an innocent class trip that eventually turns into a zombie hunting ground. It is also about irresponsible and selfish Dave (Alexander England), who accompanies Miss Caroline's class, where his nephew is a student. The beginning montage of the film shows Dave and his girlfriend in a toxic relationship. When they finally decide to call it quits, Dave has to move in with his older sister and her son, Felix. Dave is your typical unlikable turned likable hero. He is an unreliable brother, a distant lover, and an inappropriately immature uncle. When he sees Miss Caroline for the first time, time literally slows down, and he will do anything to win her over, but he must overcome some personal obstacles in order to do so.
It is actually refreshing having Lupita the object of affection in this film. She is the light melody that plays throughout this movie. Miss Caroline is a perfectly written school teacher. She carries herself with confidence, grace, and a motherhood that protects her students. Lupita absolutely killed the role. Seeing her range from "Red" earlier this year in Us to the sing-song nature of Miss Caroline in this film was something to marvel at. Her yellow dress was a ray of sunshine, like a beacon of hope, for the children and Dave to follow behind.
As Miss Caroline convinces the kids that all the zombies are a part of an elaborate game, the children's fearless reactions to every scenario only makes you worry more as the audience. "It's okay if we don't win the game Miss Caroline," one of her students suggests to her. Little does she know is that they do in fact have to win the game, for that's the only way they can make it home. The horror in this film lies not so much in the zombies themselves but in your fear for the children. The protection of their innocence is what drives every action in this film, and I was just as invested in protecting them as the adults. It's a heightened anxiety that makes you watch and care about the lives of every child, even if you don't know their names. There is a particular scene with Felix that practically had me pacing back and forth in the room. The danger is metaphorically and literally in fingertips reach of the children. They even ride around in a tractor, which is a god-awfully slow vehicle, with menacingly slow walking zombies just inches and feet behind them. It's a comedic factor, but one that causes a nervous laugh with a hint of worry almost boiling over the surface of your mind.
This new Hulu-original film perfectly captures what it feels like for danger to be on the cusp but never quite touching you. It's close enough that you can feel the hairs raised on your skin, but you are able to escape it by just a half-second. As Miss Caroline guides her class through a maze of flesh-eating zombies to safety, she is protecting her children from a gruesome death, but she is also protecting the audience from watching unspeakable horrors. This makes it not so much a gory, horror film as much as it is a heartfelt film of fun and a little blood. In the end, the music-loving zombies, the Taylor Swift song, and the bravery of all the characters working together, makes it a top feel-good film. The children never lose their innocence, and you as the audience, are able to breathe and laugh along with them in the end.
Josh Gad plays Teddy McGiggles, a stereotypical alcoholic performer for children, whose every act felt more and more predictable as the film carried on and who only seemed to hold the film back rather than serve a purpose. There are also some scenes, especially in the beginning of the film, that completely drag out the time. They take up a good 30 minutes, and they don't really serve any purpose of the film either, other than to offer too much history on Dave's character. Instead of making his character development more fulfilling, the extra information just felt unwanted and slightly boring. His character should have been more supporting to Lupita's, in my opinion. Once that part is over, however, I find the film absolutely enjoyable. It is so much more a feel-good comedy than a zombie comedy, making it not feel so much part of the 30 Days of Halloween theme, but nonetheless it was a great watch that I recommend for everyone!
Jacindable Rating: ★★★
starring, Lupita Nyong'o, Josh Gad, Alexander England, Nadia Townsend, Charlie Whitley, Shakila Zab, Chris Bunton, Shia Hamby, and more
written and directed by, Abe Forsythe