Written and Directed by Eli Craig
Starring Adam Scott, Evangeline Lilly, Sally Field, Clancy Brown and Owen Atlas
By now, we all know the signs of the End Times, the impending prophecies of the Apocalypse. The moon turning to blood, prevalent natural disasters, the seas boiling… a creepy little kid speaking by way of his goat hand puppet named Ree Roy. Although I suppose the book of Revelation forgot to add that last little chestnut.
Creepy kid movies are now a dime a dozen but perhaps the most well known and earlier films (outside of say, Bad Seed) is The Omen. Little Damian Thorne and all his anti-christal machinations. Substitute Gregory Peck for charismatic comic actor Adam Scott and you’ve got the basic structure of Netflix’s Little Evil.
It’s created by the man who brought us the ridiculous, fun and ridiculously fun Tucker & Dale vs Evil, a skewering of classic tropes of the “hell-billy” subgenre. However, his major sophomore attempt at wringing laughs out of another horror subgenre is not as successful. Little Evil is a fun film, of course the very premise begs this. It’s not a silly sight gag spoof like Scary Movie or any of the countless dreck that Friedberg and Setzer throw at us. Rather it’s actually a fairly straight laced antichrist story with a few muted chuckles here and there. My major complaint is that it tends to play it a bit too safe. The laughs aren’t as broad as they could be and I actually would have preferred the humor to be a bit more direct rather than it taking second fiddle to a very routine devil-child tale. There are a few amusing moments, most coming from Scott’s attempts to bond with his wayward demonic stepson but it just really isn’t that funny, nor scary or even all that interesting. Part of my disinterest might come from the high personal standards set forth from Craig’s previous film as T&D was a convention twisting splatstick farce with lovable characters and amusing role reversals. Little Evil is just a bit bare bones.
Not to say it’s all bad, it’s a solid film overall. All the actors give it a go and Scott is likable as he always is (unless he actively channels a douce bag character, as in say, Stepbrothers). But here he’s a doting if frustrated step father and he conveys this accurately. Ditto for Evangeline Lilly as the mother and voice actor extraordinaire as a sinister cult leader. The child actor is perfectly fine and Bridget Everett as Scott’s loud, boorish, gay friend is pretty amusing. Sally Field is in this too, believe it or not, but her role is very downplayed to the point that I didn’t even recognize her presence until later.
Potential viewers should also know that this isn’t a straight horror despite it seeming to want to be so. Any disturbing or gruesome imagery expected from this subgenre is downplayed and there’s very little gore to be had. The film seems to be in a bit of an identity crisis in that it can’t seem which genre to prioritize. This is further compounded by Craig’s hyper-quick-cut editing style which is almost certainly intended to evoke thoughts of Edgar Wright and Shaun of the Dead.
Overall, it’s a decent watch. Little Evil isn’t going to break boundaries or acquire the small, quiet cult status that Tucker and Dale have but it’s certainly watchable. A game cast and some amusing moments establish a film that you’ll absorb and likely quickly forget soon after.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
2.5/5 Demon-Goat Sock Puppets
*Little Evil is currently available exclusively through Netflix streaming as of Oct 2017*
Splatter Factor: 1.5/5 – Not much to be had here other than a few quick shots of post impalement victims. The humor is intended more from describing little Lucas’ victims rather than showcasing it outright. As such, gore hounds will find little to work with.
The Collective Speaks:
The children are our future. It’s true as we find the little ones so much easier to infiltrate yet their undeveloped minds and limited physical capabilities make them less than ideal overall. They seem to be popular amongst our brethren, as it were. For now, we will simply reside in this 30 year old wretch and force him to peck away at his keyboard, absorbing middling films like this one and laughing with many tongues at how inaccurate humans can be when it comes to portraying demonic residence.