Little Evil (2017) Review: Uneven Horror Comedy
“Samantha is his dream. Lucas is his nightmare.”
Synopsis: Gary, who has just married Samantha, the woman of his dreams, discovers that her six-year-old son may be the Antichrist.
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I felt like Little Evil’s filmmakers couldn’t decide what they wanted to make. A horror flick? A comedy? A heartfelt family drama? I didn’t mind the ambition of trying to connect all of those threads, but Little Evil just wasn’t up to the task. The actors often lacked the chemistry and gravitas needed to pull off the wildly differing things they were asked to do. And while most of the movie was technically well done, it didn’t fit together well.
The first half of Little Evil, it felt like the filmmakers were trying to do a Scream-style horror comedy. There were lots of callbacks and visual nods to famous horror movies like Poltergeist and The Shining. But where Scream did a fairly decent job of including tension and horror elements, all of Little Evil’s attempts felt forced. The music didn’t provide the appropriate atmosphere for jump scares, and horror elements felt rushed or out of place. (There are several very Shaun of the Dead-esque quick cuts of mundane actions, but this device isn’t used enough to seem natural for the movie.)
Along with its lackluster attempts at horror, the first half of the movie really suffered in pacing. A gradual discovery that things are not what they seem works in a slow burn type movie – which this is not. Gary (Adam Scott) seems at turns more and then less concerned about his family situation than he should be. (He’s also significantly less concerned than he should be about flagrant WTF red flags from client Clancy Brown, his friends, and his wife.) Things escalate at a really uneven clip, and those elements combined meant that the first half was fairly boring.
The second half of the movie took a sharp left turn into heartfelt family drama territory. While several of the comedic elements remained the same, the filmmakers ditched any real attempt at horror. On the plus side, the pacing was better, and I felt like the over-the-top characters Adam Scott had been meeting finally worked for the movie (instead of seeming like WTF placements as they had in the first half). There are several very fun moments, including a team of step dads (including Bridget Everett, Donald Faison, and Kyle Bornheimer) suiting up for action. And honestly, the twist made the story more interesting… but also meant that character choices in the second half of the movie really ignored everything set up in the first half.
I probably wouldn’t object to watching Little Evil again, but I doubt I’d seek it out, either. It tried to do too much and mostly failed, and while I did have some laughs along the way, they weren’t enough to make up for the movie’s many flaws. However, if you enjoyed director Eli Craig‘s Tucker and Dale vs. Evil more than I did, maybe you’ll find something you like here as well.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C+
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