I do like a good horror anthology. Well, this is a horror anthology. Let's see if it's any good ...
This one opens with six-year-old Jason (Mason Wells) calling for attention in bed one evening; he's scared of the dark. This is causing issues at bed time, something his mother (L A Winters) is sympathetic towards but his stepfather Tom (Zach Galligan) most definitely is not. Jason's convinced there's a monster lurking underneath his bed on nights; mother suggests that she take him to the toy store to buy a "special friend" to keep him company at night-time.
The following morning, mother makes good on her promise. While perusing the store, Jason homes in on a leprechaun doll with a dubious-looking burn on its face. As mother appears and begins to discourage Jason from warming to the doll, its maker (Geoff McKnight) walks on to the shop floor. He sits with them and offers to tell them the story behind the doll, whose name is Patrick.
From here, we segue into our first little story. This one's based around young mother Jessica (Hannah Fierman) who's just moved back to Atlanta where she grew up, having inherited her grandmother's house. The kids in the local school have taunted her daughter Katelin (Piper Collins) with news of the house's bloody legacy: a story of murder, and leprechauns. Jessica does her best to assure Katelin and her younger brother Daniel (Drew Youngblood) that this is all just a crock of shite. After all, it's the eve of Halloween and the last thing she needs is for their imaginations to start running riot.
With the kids tucked up in bed, Jessica settles down to continue writing her latest horror novel on her laptop. Her old pal Susan (Courtney Hogan), now a cop, pops around for a cuppa ... and it becomes apparent during their unfolding conversation that something weird and horrific certainly did happen in that house, many moons ago ...
Then, on Halloween morning, the Patrick doll mysteriously appears sitting on Jessica's front porch. And, yeah, she's creeped out. With good reason, as a flashback to her youth explains. And yet, she still takes the doll into her home. She throws a cloth over its face but when she next looks, the cloth has been removed and Patrick has changed position. That can't end well ... can it?
Well, as you may have predicted, the doll maker's story doesn't really sell the idea of owning a leprechaun doll to Jason's mother. She is, however, intrigued by a little girl's porcelain-looking (but definitely NOT porcelain, we're told) doll lying next to Patrick and, with its face all cracked and blemished, it seems to be in even worse condition.
Its name is Patty, the doll maker explains, and it dates back to the 1800s. "She was broken long before her face cracked", the doll maker enigmatically hints. Naturally, it has a dark story of its own attached to it ...
So, let's meet Abby (Courtney Lakin), a 28-year-old singleton who collects dolls, all of which are facially disfigured in some manner. Which is immediately odd, because she seems obsessed with acquiring only beautiful dolls. She's preparing herself for a trip to an upcoming cosplay convention in Georgia (huh, that's where Atlanta is ...). And if you think she sounds a tad weird, well ... Abby is only about to get stranger. And what's the story behind that unconvincing scar on her face, which looks a little like she's purposely smeared a long streak of Nutella down her cheek? All will become clear.
The doll maker's second story completed; the mother decides it's time to leave the store. Jason doesn't want to go empty-handed though - and so they buy a clown doll, which Jason decides to call Giggles. The wraparound inevitably becomes our third and final yarn.
Director Matt Green's EVIL LITTLE THINGS boasts decent production values, an effective but unobtrusive score and a horror-lite tone which should cater for those wishing to introduce young teenagers to genre fare.
It's silly and often inconsistent, and the pay-offs of each story didn't really do much for me. But performances are generally good and each doll does look suitably creepy. The female leads are easy on the eye; it's good to Galligan on the screen again - especially so as he's playing against type.
But there are more flaws than scores in EVIL LITTLE THINGS. The leprechaun episode takes up too much screen time, while the Patty vignette feels like it was pretty much thought up on the spot. And the wraparound's denouement may as well have had the CREEPSHOW theme tune playing over it.
Still, on the positive side, it's clear that the makers have a passion for horror cinema - as well as outright references to the likes of POLTERGEIST and LEPRECHAUN, there are hidden nods to FRANKENHOOKER, CHILD'S PLAY, MAGIC and more - and everyone on screen attacks this endeavour with gusto.
I admire the film's energy and spirit, but the end results are a little ... forgettable. In terms of base-level exploitation content, there's very little in the way of gore or nudity (none of the latter) to spice things up.
EVIL LITTLE THINGS is being released on DVD by Uncork'd Entertainment. It's also getting a digital on-demand release too because, y'know, this is 2020.
We were sent an online link for screener purposes. The film was 85 minutes and 42 seconds long, which is uncut. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio serves the attractive cinematography well, while the stunningly sharp HD picture quality captures the stylish lighting and colour schemes in fine, clean detail.
English audio was also extremely clear throughout.
EVIL LITTLE THINGS was watchable but I wasn't overly enamoured. I doubt I'd be able to recall anything about it in a week from now.
Review by Stuart Willis
|Released by Uncork'd Entertainment|