The musical Nintendo-inspired We Are Little Zombies is one of the more eclectic offerings during the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
It’s only after their parents get cremated in which Hikari, Ikuko, Ishi, and Takemura meet each other. As viewers, we are first introduced to emotion-less Hikari. He descibes Japanese funeral customs as being five times more boring than history classes. Ouch!
These four young teenagers decide to start a band as a means to an end. Not only are they orphans following deaths of their parents but none of them are able to cry. If it were me, I’d be breaking down in an instant! Given that they are unable to come to tears, they turn to music as a way to search for these emotions. Will they find any? It’s quite possible that they don’t have any emotions. Upon asking someone to take their photo, the lack of a smile in their face leads to the comment that they’re “zombies.” This comment leads the four teens to call themselves Little Zombies as a result.
The costume designs in this film is one to be applauded. Even as these four go dumpster diving for clothing, they still need to look somewhat presentable! Even though I don’t understand the language, the soundtrack contains NINETY songs. If this film picks up US distribution and four other original musicals get released in 2019 the Academy can activate Best Original Musical. I’ve read the rules–it’s in there.
Writer-director Makoto Nagahisa took home the Grand Jury Prize for his short film, And So We Put Goldfish in
the Pool, in 2017. He was the first Japanese director to do so. Now he’s back at Sundance with his first feature film. It’s no surprise that he’s chosen to direct a feature film that is heavy on music. After all, he has a background in directing music videos. The storytelling choices here are bold. One can tell in viewing the film where he gets inspiration from. There have been films inspired by video games over the years but there’s something that is especially different about the Nintendo-inspired We Are Little Zombies.
In doing so, he isn’t afraid to get edgy with some of the material here. When Hikari enters the morgue to identify the bodies of his parents, he daydreams that he’s being pranked. What an awful prank that would be but it sure is a hell of a way to deflect the situation at hand! To each their own, I suppose.
I don’t know if I have seen another film that is like We Are Little Zombies and it’s quite possible that this may be one of the most unique films of cinema in 2019.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Makoto Nagahisa
CAST: Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima