DIRECTOR: Eli Craig
WRITER: Eli Craig
Marcus Terrell Smith
Gary has recently married the woman of his dreams, Samantha. Samantha comes with some baggage and has a young son named Lucas. Lucas is quiet and reserved. Now that she is married to Gary, she is hoping that Gary and Lucas will get along as he's now his stepfather. When strange things begin happening around Lucas, Gary believes that his new stepson may, in fact, be the antichrist.
From the director of the critically acclaimed and much-beloved comedy horror Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, comes his second film Little Evil. When the poster art was originally released by Netflix, I immediately got the impression we were looking at a parody of the classic horror film The Omen. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to work that much out. I've always been a fan of the original Omen, but unlike a lot of other horror fans, I wasn't a huge fan of his first film. I find comedy horror to be a dime a dozen, and I just didn't get it. Maybe, in time it'll grow on me.
I won't beat around the bush. Because I didn't find Tucker and Dale vs. Evil the laugh riot that everybody else had, I was a tad bit worried about Little Evil. I'd assumed the comedy would be in the same sort of style as his first feature film. I was hoping that if I didn't enjoy it, I'd at least like the gore because I thought Tucker and Dale at least delivered on that front. I hate having expectations about a film before seeing it, but it is a fact of watching a movie. Anyone who says they go into a film with an open mind one-hundred percent of the time is a liar.
After finishing Little Evil, I was left somewhat disappointed with the final film. I have brought it up countless times that I have a hard time with the comedy horror genre. It's comedy in general. It's probably the hardest genre to impress me. These sort of films need to ride that fine line and get the balance right, or otherwise, they end up feeling uneven, or they feel more like one than the other. It's a balancing act, and I think this sadly saw the comedy outweigh the horror. It wasn't by a little bit; this is jokes every minute and more than not, they didn't land for me.
What I think Little Evil gets right is that this has a lot of heart. Going into a film that is a send-up of The Omen. You think this will lack heart like the film it parodies. The Omen was dark. It saw a lot of dark themes explored. The ending is also a complete bummer. So I went in expecting this to take the piss, be mean-spirited, and that was the end of that. What I wasn't prepared for was the emotion and sentiment involved. I found myself invested in the family dynamic. I didn't want to see this kid die like I did with Damien Thorn. This kid just needed that male figure to get through to him. He needed that evil heart thawed out. For the most part, this is pretty cute.
The acting was solid for the most part. I have always enjoyed Evangeline Lilly since first seeing her in Lost. I think she holds her own against Adam Scott. I found myself connecting more to her character Samantha. I thought she had a lot of the best jokes between her and Adam Scott. She plays coy and nonchalant as her tyke is clearly the one behind these gruesome murders, accidents, and acts of God. I also enjoyed Owen Atlas as Lucas. For his first feature film, he does a solid job of playing the creepy, evil kid. I hope he continues to work as I'd like to see what he does next.
The supporting cast is also great here. Bridget Everett steals the show as the butch lesbian work mate of Adam Scott. She really does get all of the best one-liners here, and if I was laughing out loud at all, it was her performance. Sally Field comes in for a minute in a surprising guest turn as a child protection agent named Miss Shaylock. A nice little nod to Mrs Baylock from the original Omen. I thought the highlight of the film in terms of comedy comes from the therapy scene where a bunch of stepfathers talk about their evil children. A funny take on the AA meeting idea.
Visually, I found the film to be very reminiscent of Edgar Wright's work. A lot of the camera work, editing, and transitions into new scenes felt almost identical. I don't know if Eli Craig is inspired by Edgar Wright, but it had him written all over the way this thing was shot. It has the quick action montages, the fast-paced editing into new scenes. I was honesting expecting to see a cameo scene from Simon Pegg and Nick Frost walking out of a pub or something. That's how similar the film felt on a visual level. I hope he wrote Edgar Wright a cheque.
Lastly, we come to the gore and violence. I think the original The Omen is far more bloody and violent than this movie. There are scenes where people die, but a lot of them are quickly cut or all aftermath shots. I think had this ramped up the gore and bloodshed; we may have seen this lend itself a little more to the horror and balance out the comedy. I do sort of admire that they at least tried to provide us with a few death scenes that gave a nod to the original Omen. Still, sue me for wanting a ton more of the red stuff.
DEATH TOLL: 4
BLOOD AND GORE:
- A woman is pulled off of a spiked fence.
- A clown at a party catches on fire.
- A man is sucked up into a tornado.
- A man repeatedly whips his back with a Cat o' Nine Tails.
- Earthworms pour out of a man's nose.
- A priest is punched in the face and falls into the pits of hell.
- It begins raining blood.
- A man falls back and hits his head on the side of a bathtub.
- A dwarf is impaled on a piece of wood.
While Little Evil is endearing more than it is evil, it still fell short for me. A hilarious supporting turn from Bridget Everett, some great chemistry between the three lead actors, and a great therapy session scene aren't enough to save this comedy horror film. Light on the horror, minimal on the laughs. I think I'd prefer to just stick on the original Omen than watch Little Evil again. I'm sure this will find it's audience but it wasn't for me. Keep an eye out for a supporting turn from the great Sally Field. Worth streaming on Netflix for that alone.