A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Zombie Bro is a 2020 tween zombie comedy in which a 10-year-old must contend with her younger brother turning into a zombie and trying to attack her parents and friends. While this would no doubt be in the running for the "Least Violent Zombie Movie Ever" award, it's still a zombie movie, so there are some very brief and very tame bites to the hands, necks, and faces that draw some blood. Movie is centered on a family of color living in Australia. A pair of bullies punch their fists at Francine and her zombie brother Teddie in a few scenes (before Teddie retaliates, and turns them into, you guessed it, zombies), and one tells Francine to "go back to Indolaysia." The bullies also call Francine "Frankenstein," and call Teddie "weirdo." Francine's father calls her an idiot, and as Francine continues to insist that Teddie is dangerous, she gets locked in a shed as punishment. Francine uses the middle finger gesture in one scene. There's a scene in which it's revealed that Francine's beloved pet rabbit has been eaten (off camera) by Teddie, and she shows her parents the rabbit bones. When Francine tells her parents at dinner that she has a new girlfriend, her father thinks that she has an actual girlfriend, rather than a girl who's a friend. After the school dance, when Francine tells her father that her zombie brother Teddie bit her new best friend Calissa, her Dad thinks he kissed her, then asks Teddie, "Did you use your tongue?" Ultimately, this is as much a coming-of-age story as it is a zombie movie, and through her trials, Francine learns to channel her "girl power" as she learns to stand up to the bullies, confront her father, and fight back against the growing zombie population in her school and neighborhood.
What's the story?
In ZOMBIE BRO, Francine is a 10-year-old trying to lead a normal life of school, dances, and trying to fit in. Unfortunately, her younger brother Teddie has turned into a zombie, and he becomes more undead with each passing day. Her parents are too busy coddling him and playing favorites to notice. While Francine and Teddie got along just fine before he became a zombie, their relationship rapidly deteriorates as he tries to bite her in her sleep, and then he bites her best friend Calissa in the hand at the school dance. This results in Calissa turning into a zombie, and soon others at school turn into zombies. Francine must work together with her dad Rob, a police officer who is constantly disappointed in her and consistently puts her down at every given opportunity. Despite their strained relationship, Francine and her dad begin to bond during these trying circumstances. When Francine learns how to fire poison darts from her dad's collection of dart guns, she discovers an inner strength she never knew she had. Now she must find a way to stand up for herself and fight back against the ever-increasing zombie population.
Is it any good?
Those expecting Zombie Bro to be a B-movie about a frat zombie wreaking havoc on a college campus will be pleasantly surprised by this quirky movie. Those expecting this to be a brain-eating bloodfeast rather than the weird, unique, and hilarious indie film that it actually is will be disappointed that there isn't much in the way of gore or violence, but it's not like they don't have a whole slew of movies to choose from in that regard. It's as much a coming-of-age movie as it is a movie about a kid brother who has turned into a zombie, and the way these two genres play off each other makes this a whole lot of fun to watch. There's more Napoleon Dynamite in it than Day of the Dead, and it achieves the near-impossible: a fresh take on the shopworn zombie film.
Again, the quirkiness and oddball humor isn't for everyone, particularly those expecting more straight-ahead horror. But for families with a different set of expectations, there are plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes for tweens and adults alike. There's also a positive message that emerges loud and clear by the film's conclusion about how tweens who get picked on, put down, and made to feel inferior can learn to find the inner strength to stand up for themselves, no matter if they're contending with zombies, bullies, younger siblings, or parents. Zombie Bro is a pleasant surprise, a stand-out blend of familiar genres that carves out a space all its own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about zombie movies. How is this different from most zombie movies? How does it convey that Teddie and others are zombies without showing graphic violence?
How is this a coming-of-age movie? What does Francine learn from the typical and not-so-typical challenges she faces as a tween?
What are your thoughts on the ending? How does it reveal what the movie is really about?
- On DVD or streaming: December 29, 2020
- Cast: Lauren Grego, Anthony Taufa, Karina Bracken
- Director: May Grehan
- Studio: Indican Pictures
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 83 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: December 19, 2020
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