What would you do if you were a 10-year-old orphan in Japan? Form a rock band with your three orphan friends and become a pop sensation, of course. And in We Are Little Zombies, Makoto Nagahisa’s debut feature, that’s exactly what four children bound together by the deaths of their parents do.
Accompanied by an incredible 8-bit soundtrack reflecting one child’s obsession with retro video games, the quartet spend the first half of the film considering how each of their parents died (a mixture of murder, fire, and an accident on an “all you can eat strawberries” coach tour) and visiting each of their homes before setting off into the wide world to form a band.
With the dark humour and line delivery of Richard Ayoade’s films, and an outlook on orphaned life reminiscent of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the film whips along at an energetic pace, full of oddball humour that just about manages to keep its heart and not alienate the audience.
With a surprisingly long two-hour runtime, We Are Little Zombies could stand to trim some of its many, many ideas down, but there is so much constantly happening that it never gets too bogged down; with video game graphics, flashbacks to each child’s problematic parents, and songs that have no right to be as catchy as they are, the film manages to stay afloat by bombarding the audience with colour, jokes and music.
We Are Little Zombies is a vibrant film brimming with snappy, dark humour that can only be used to handle such a sad premise as four children becoming orphans. It’s an utterly joyful glance into a fantastical world with some cracking music that’ll make you wish this adorable fictional band were real.
CAST: Masaaki Akahori, Chai, Eriko Hatsune, Sôsuke Ikematsu
DIRECTOR: Makoto Nagahisa
WRITER: Makoto Nagahisa
SYNOPSIS: Four Japanese orphans form a rock band.