The premise of a zombie horror/comedy with Lupita Nyong’o sets some pretty high expectations for viewers; but tragically, Little Monsters delivers mediocrity. Nyong’o is unsurprisingly the shining star of this film along with her adorable kindergarten class, beven her bright light can’t save Little Monsters from its glaring mishaps.

The story follows Dave (Alexander England), an unsuccessful musician and all around deadbeat who moves in with his sister, Tess (Kat Stewart) and her son, Felix (Diesel La Torraca) after a tumultuous breakup with his long-term girlfriend. After meeting Felix’s beautiful kindergarten teacher, Miss Caroline (Lupita Nyong’o), Dave volunteers to chaperone for a field trip to win her over. They head to Pleasant Valley Farm, where popular children’s TV host Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad) is filming an episode of his show. An innocent trip soon turns deadly when a security breach in the U.S. Army testing facility next door releases a horde of zombies onto the farm, leaving Dave and Miss Caroline fighting to protect themselves and the kindergarten class.

The pacing of the film is well done, keeping the audience on their toes as the surviving humans narrowly escape grotesque – but mercifully slow – zombies. Miss Caroline’s efforts to hide the truth from the children are darkly comedic and frequently involve singing Taylor Swift songs on a ukulele, which is a highlight of the film; really, every scene with Miss Caroline is worthy of five stars. Nyong’o is blindingly charismatic as a sweet kindergarten teacher who murders zombies with the ferocity of a Spartan warrior in order to keep her class safe. The scene of Miss Caroline’s mission to retrieve Felix’s EpiPen is one of the best scenes of the entire film, if not the best – even though it’s far too short.

Where the film goes unforgivably wrong is the two male characters. Dave, the lesser of two evils, becomes a likable protagonist after he begins to open up and focus on protecting the kids.  However, this feels like too dramatic of a shift, since at the beginning of the film he was constantly using vulgar language around a five-year-old, getting off to a picture of Miss Caroline – standing with her kindergarten class! – and being abhorrently rude to the teacher when she tells him that she’s engaged. Essentially, Dave begins the film with no redeeming qualities, which begs the question – when the dust settles from the zombie encounter, will he immediately return to his old ways? Miss Caroline is so absurdly out of his league that their relationship struggles to make any real impact besides making viewers really, really hope she breaks up with him in the future.

If Dave were the only male character, this film would probably be a four star watch: but Teddy McGiggles alone knocked a star off. The film tries to play the contrast between his TV persona and real personality for comedy, but instead it comes off as garish, crude, and altogether excruciating to watch. Teddy McGiggles is a silly character who loves kids – but in real life, he’s a borderline sociopathic sex addict whose only goal is to sleep with moms whose children watch his show. It’s funny because it’s so different! Get it? The same joke that wasn’t all that funny in the first place is beaten to death again and again until Teddy finally does the audience a favor and dies.

Little Monsters has a lot of squandered potential; but it’s worth a watch solely for Lupita Nyong’o and her kindergarten class. If you watch the film, however, be warned: you will have ‘Shake it Off’ stuck in your head for the foreseeable future.