There are zombie films. Then there are great zombie films that feature memorable characters facing up-hill adversity against these undead creatures.
In the critically acclaimed Little Monsters, this indie zombie film is a delightful fun film that features field trip chaperones trying to shield little school children during a zombie outbreak.
The film stars Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave, Black Panther), Alexander England (Alien: Covenant, Gods of Egypt), Kat Stewart (Underbelly, Offspring), Diesel La Torraca (Lambs of God) and Josh Gad (Frozen, Pixels). It is written and directed by Abe Forsythe (Down Under).
Here’s the official synopsis:
Dave (England), a washed-up musician, volunteers to chaperone his nephew’s kindergarten field trip after taking a shine to the plucky schoolteacher, Miss Caroline (Nyong’o). Dave’s intentions are complicated by the presence of world-famous child entertainer and competitor for Miss Caroline’s affections with Teddy McGiggle (Gad) One thing none of them bargained for, however, is a sudden zombie outbreak from which Dave and Miss Caroline must protect the children.
LRM Online spoke with actor Alexander England earlier this month in promotion ahead of its premiere on Hulu. We talked about the lure into a zombie romcom, working with children and his ability at guitar playing and singing.
Little Monsters is currently streaming on Hulu today and at select theaters.
Read the exclusive LRM Online interview below.
LRM Online: How is your day handling the press with this wonderful film?
Alexander England: It’s a great joy to be talking about something that you proud of as opposed to the alternative. [Laughs] I really loved the film. I’m very happy to do my bit to kind of get it out there and frame it in the best possible light. Have you seen this film?
LRM Online: I have seen the film. I thought it was such a delight. I’m pleased to hear that your film festival circuit is about to end for this project and the world to see it.
Alexander England: I’m really glad you enjoy it. It’s going to get out there and people are going to be able to watch it. I’m excited to see how it lands with different people. There’s the zombie element. There’s the craft element. And there’s the offensive jokes and the violence with all the rest of it. There’s also a lot of heart in this film. People are going to be surprised at it affects them, how it reaches them emotionally amongst the silliness.
LRM Online: Why were you attracted to a zombie romcom like this?
Alexander England: [Laughs] Abe [Forsythe] and I have worked together before. We’ve made a film together called Down Under a few years ago. I had such a great time working with him. We’ve been friends for a while now for a number of years. We worked together early in 2012 as actors. That’s how I first met Abe.
My initial attraction was just the chance to work with him again. We have so much fun on his set. He’s always open to trying new things and playing around with things. He’s willing to take things as far as I can go and then pull it back if we need to.
It’s this character as well. I thought it was an interesting character. I was excited to play this guy who starts off as one thing as selfish and irresponsible and then goes through big change. He learns along with the children from Lupita’s [Nyong’o] character called Miss Caroline. We see a bit of a journey for this character. I was excited to tackle that change, tackle the jokes to skip the beats in order to be laughing out loud. I had to be a part of it.
LRM Online: Was it easy to play a role in the comedy sense? Especially since your character is very childlike and immature in his own way.
Alexander England: That’s an opportunity to have fun. I read those scenes and thought about commitment to being that character. [Laughs] It’s about being ugly with it and to having a little fun with it. That’s what I was able to do. I needed to have a creative sense in terms of how I work.
I really wanted to create a sense of the character of who he is and to what led to him being so immature and avoiding responsibility to such an extent. As the movie progresses, it’s able to watch in awe as Lupita did her thing. Let that be the guiding principle for the rest of the film as my character watches Miss Caroline teaches the kids. Working with Lupita was a huge part of the experience obviously. A lot of the character and storytelling were about falling in love with Lupita’s character as a teacher as well as a beautiful woman.
LRM Online: I have to ask about the guitar playing. You have a natural talent for a guitar playing and singing?
Alexander England: I have a natural talent for playing guitar and singing badly. Yes. I had to learn to play guitar for this one. That is me in the film. It’s a great relief [Laughs] to know that the character is not very good at all, not very good at the instrument. It gave me a little bit of breathing room.
I’ve been able get close to being okay with the guitar in certain scenes. I had fun with that. You’ve seen the film. There are two incarnations. There’s my character trying to be a rock and roll guy, fairly self-indulgent in almost a teenage approach to music. It is very self-centered and demonstrative. Later in the film, he was more singing from the heart. I can do those things. I can play guitar unpleasantly and then I can sing from the heart.
LRM Online: Well, I guess you didn’t have to go too far to act all of that. So that’s a good thing. [Laughs]
Alexander England: That’s right. I was very well-equipped.
LRM Online: In this business, they always warn you about working with children. You are truly working with preschoolers. Talk about that experience.
Alexander England: It was a little intimidating. Nobody goes in blindly. The production mad huge amount of effort into how using the kids on keeping them happy and also keeping them safe. By having zombies in the film, it meant that the kids had to be around actors who were dressed up as terrifying zombies. A lot of energy went into showing the kids how the makeup was put on. It’s getting them involved in the makeup application process so they could see that it’s people underneath. Then making sure that they’re comfortable with that aspect of the film.
We had to deal with shooting the thing, which meant that Lupita and I spend a lot of time catching the kids’ attention, making sure they were all looking in the right direction and doing our best to kind of wrangle the kids in between takes. Working with kids is beautiful as they are not self-conscious at all, but they just keep enjoying themselves. It’s amazing to see on camera, because we’re so used to seeing people who are very self-conscious and affected by that. It was a great reminder to relax and get to that childlike lack of self-consciousness It would be an amazing thing to watch. [Laughs]
LRM Online: One of the running big running jokes is about cursing in the film. Did you have to curse around these kids?
Alexander England: Legally, we weren’t allowed to curse at all in front of the kids. A lot of energy went into that aspect as well. We used standing words for the swear words when the kids were in frames. A lot of wide shots you’ll see us and the kids in the shot. We use alternate words like fluffy instead of more offensive words. [Laughs].
Later we would be dubbing in the actual curse words. For the singles, we get closer the coverage and get all the kids out of there. We just go for it in terms of cursing. Legally, we weren’t allowed to curse in front of children. I think it is a very good thing. [Laughs]
LRM Online: Talk about the realism of the zombies. Every time I see a zombie movie, these zombies are looking so realistic to me that I could starting to see them in real life.
Alexander England: We were so lucky we were able to work with the team that won the Oscar for Mad Max: Fury Road. They pulled all the stops. They got involved, because they wanted to have fun with it, particularly with the visual effects. They created some incredible amazing looks for the different zombies that really stand out. It was just such a blessing they wanted to get involved in making it as exciting as possible for them as much as anybody. It really helped to flesh out the world.
LRM Online: One of the things I did notice is that this being an Australian film and it was filmed in South Wales? Isn’t that your backyard? Was it very convenient for you?
Alexander England: It was very convenient for me. Absolutely. A little more traveling for Lupita, but they loved the experience of shooting in Sydney. I’m very proud to the Australian crews and the talent we have down there in front of the camera and behind the camera. It was great they could come in and watch how we do things. They were very impressed.
LRM Online: One last quick question, do you like Taylor Swift? [Laughs]
Alexander England: You bet. I’ve had such fun with her music and it was a big part of this film. Her music does connect so much with the kids. It grown on me.
LRM Online: Excellent answer. Hey, thank you very much Alexander, which we had more time. Thank you.
Alexander England: Thanks, man.
Little Monsters is currently streaming on Hulu today and at select theaters.
Source: LRM Online Exclusive