A class field trip gets interrupted by the undead in the Hulu original film.
Zombie movies almost always rely on some sort of unique hook to differentiate them from the crowd of similar projects. This week’s Little Monsters has a great one: Lupita Nyong’o stars as Miss Caroline, a teacher taking her class on a trip to a local farm/nature center. Joining her is Dave (Alexander England), who wants to impress Caroline as a rebound after recently getting dumped.
Things take a turn for Dave when he finds he has to compete for Caroline’s attention with the annoying host of a children’s program (Josh Gad) as well as the undead zombies that have escaped from a nearby military base. Caroline has to work with the two guys to keep her class full of kindergartners safe and uneaten.
Nyong’o’s status as one of the new leading ladies of thrillers has been at the center of the campaign for the movie, which has a lot of fun with the tropes of the zombie genre.
The unusual nature of the story is on display on the poster, which shows Caroline jumping with enthusiastic joy with her guitar in hand but also jumping to avoid the reach of the decaying zombie hands seen grasping from the bottom of the photo. That communicates nicely how while this might be a zombie movie it’s going to be one with a slightly different attitude and tone – also emphasized by the bright yellow used in the background – than audiences might expect.
The first trailer finally came out in September. It starts out with Caroline and Teddy leading a class of youngsters on their farm field trip, one that gets interrupted by the sudden appearance of flesh-eating zombies. After that we got a tongue-in-cheek presentation of the kind of mayhem and violence the movie contains as the human adults try and protect the kids from the zombies that have taken over and are searching for food anywhere they can get it.
Online and Social
It’s clear there’s a heavy NEON influence to the movie’s official website, which sports the usual marketing materials but also features the “social assets” that studio often puts on its sites.
Advertising and Publicity
Following the movie’s successful debut at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year NEON and Hulu formed an unusual partnership for distribution rights.
Hulu gave the movie some additional publicity by using it in its “Huluween” campaign highlighting a number of scary movies and shows available on the platform.
Media and Press
A first look still from the movie was released at the same time it was announced it would be screening at Sundance. While there, Nyong’o spoke about the story’s influences and what brought her to the role.
Closer to release, Nyong’o appeared on “The Tonight Show” to engage in hijinks with the host. At the movie’s recent premiere she shared what attracts her to horror films while writer/director talked about how he came up with the idea and wound up getting it made.
It’s a fun, irreverent campaign that presents the movie as full of thrills, sure, but also one that never looses a tongue-in-cheek perspective and tone. Nyong’o obviously shines here as the teacher who’s dealing with a lot more than she expected, even while taking a bunch of kindergartners to an outdoor location.
Mostly, what’s notable is that the campaign sells the story while never appearing to talk down to the material or audience. It’s easy to do these kinds of marketing pushes in a way that slightly makes fun of the zombie trope or those who enjoy them, but this steers clear of all that and focuses on the unconventional subject matter and tone that’s used.
Picking Up the Spare
Another profile of the writer/director that explains how he conceived of the story and got the talent involved.