If its new trailer is any indication, “We Are Little Zombies” will almost certainly be remembered as one of 2020’s most wildly energetic and eclectic films. It’s a psychedelic romp about adolescent nihilism and coping with the loss of family members infused with colorful retro video game aesthetics and a gleeful tone of punky anarchism. Also, those titular zombies are metaphorical.
Per the Japanese-language film’s synopsis: “When four young orphans — Hikari, Ikuko, Ishi, and Takemura — first meet, their parents’ bodies are being turned into dust, like fine Parmesan atop a plate of spaghetti Bolognese, and yet none of them can shed a tear. They are like zombies; devoid of all emotion. With no family, no future, no dreams, and no way to move forward, the young teens decide that the first level of this new existence involves salvaging a gaming console, an old electric bass, and a charred wok from their former homes — just enough to start a band — and then conquer the world. Tragedy, comedy, music, social criticism, and teenage angst are all subsumed in this eccentric cinematic tsunami.”
References to parents’ remains as a spaghetti topping aside, it’s a simple enough concept: Four children work through their grief by starting a band. The “We Are Little Zombies” trailer promises that there will be plenty of eclectic comedy to clash against the bleak tragedies that united the film’s protagonists, and director and writer Nagahisa’s penchant for surreal imagery suggests that the film’s set pieces will be as surreal as its tone is dissonant.
“We Are Little Zombies” is Nagahisa’s directorial feature debut and quickly made a splash at Sundance last year, where it earned the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality. Nagahisa’s “And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool” 28-minute short was similarly well-received and won the Short Film Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2017.
“We Are Little Zombies” was acquired by Oscilloscope in partnership with Anita Gou’s Kindred Spirit for North American distribution in January. Though the film’s theatrical release date is TBD due to the nation’s widespread theater closures, Oscilloscope intends to distribute the film sometime in 2020. Oscilloscope released a free digital coloring book to celebrate the film’s new trailer earlier today.
Check out the first trailer for “We Are Little Zombies” below.