Little Monsters, a horror-comedy written and directed by Abe Forsythe and starring Lupita Nyong’o, had its SXSW premiere in the largest venue available, the historic Paramount Theater on March 9th. As a gore-filled movie with unreserved and sometimes vulgar humor, there is a charm to it, one that you wouldn’t expect looking at a character like the children’s entertainment star Teddy McGiggles (Josh Gad) who winds up being the very worst of people.
While introducing the film, Forsythe explained that the film, in all of its comedic-horror, is a testament for the task parents give teachers the moment their child leaves their house and steps into the classroom. He explained that sending his son, who has underlying health conditions, to school was a scary experience. He had to trust another person to look after him as he does, but he quickly realized that the teacher not only took care of his son but opened his eyes up to the world.
In the film, kindergarten teacher Miss Caroline (Nyong’o) does everything she can to not only protect the children physically but also to keep them safe mentally. She does what she can to keep the fear away and make sure that their memories of the field trip aren’t traumatic. In Little Monsters, Forsythe captures the importance of a teacher’s job, which sits below the surface of this gore-filled romp.
The charm of the film not only comes from Nyong’o as Miss Caroline but also from Forsythe’s willingness to use his experiences with his son as a base for what the children in the film, specifically Felix (Diesel La Torraca), do to make us laugh. As he explained in the Q&A following the film, some of the kindest and most child-like moments, especially one involving a costume from Star Wars was pulled from his experience with his son.
When speaking on her role in the film, Nyong’o explained that in order to get into headspace for the film, Forsythe recommended that she watch two Korean films: Okja and Train Busan. The blending of these two films is apparent. The action and ability to understand zombie combat from Train to Busana and the heart of Okja’s main character are definitely influential.
Having debuted Us, at this SXSW as well, Nyong’o is well on her way to being a Scream Queen. When I asked her on the red carpet, she responded that is up to fans and she would love it if people dubbed her as one.
There is an authenticity in each of the characters, their behaviors, and experiences. This charm and love for the project culminates in a fantastic film that is a must-see.
Little Monsters debuted at Sundance in January and is streaming now exclusively on Hulu.