The first 10 minutes of writer-director Abe Forsythe’s horror-comedy “Little Monsters” may test the audience’s patience. Alexander England commits fully to his character, Dave: a colossally self-absorbed rock guitarist who drives his girlfriend away and irritates his eternally patient older sister. The hero’s incessant vulgarity — much of it in front of his 5-year-old nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca) — is meant to be funny. But a little Dave goes a long way.
Just when this movie seems like a total write-off though, Lupita Nyong’o shows up, playing a preternaturally cheerful, zombie-fighting kindergarten teacher. And all’s well.
Nyong’o plays Miss Caroline, who escorts Felix’s class on a field trip to a farm — with a smitten Dave in tow — when zombie hordes start streaming in from a nearby military base. Miss Caroline convinces the kids this is just a game and that the blood on her dress is from “a strawberry jam fight.” She uses all of her child-herding tricks to keep the youngsters safe. It’s a delight to watch.
Josh Gad gives a hilarious supporting performance as “Teddy McGiggle,” a foul-mouthed, cowardly kiddie show host; and England becomes much more tolerable in the movie’s second half, when Dave rallies to help the teacher.
But the main reason why “Little Monsters” recovers well from its off-putting start is because of Nyong’o, who is so bright and funny as a capable caregiver, with a catchy song for every occasion. Zombies can’t faze Miss Caroline. She spends her days keeping kindergartners in line.
Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Playing: Oct. 8 in general release; available Oct. 11 on Hulu