“… far from a masterpiece, but it was still pretty enjoyable.”
Last night, after stumbling home from working almost twelve hours straight, I realized I had to watch a movie and I decided on Little Evil. I’m not telling you this for sympathy or anything, I’m just being completely transparent because I know that reviewing movies is all about perception; and I want to be perfectly clear that I wasn’t not in the best of moods when I sat down to watch Little Evil. Little Evil is a movie by winter/director Eli Craig, who is the man behind Tucker and Dale vs. Evil. Little Evil follows Gary, a newly married man who now has to put up with his wife’s stepson who may or may not be the antichrist. Little Evil is a spoof of movies like The Omen, so you kind of know what you’re getting into before it starts.
At least I thought I knew what I was getting into before it started. I’m a fan of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, but there is no hiding the lukewarm reception that Little Evil got when it was first released. I assumed that Little Evil would be your run of the mill parody, only attacking things that aren’t relevant to the structure of what it is parodying instead of things that are necessary to it’s creation. Luckily I was wrong (at least somewhat). The main takeaway form Little Evil that I had was that it is actually pretty funny. I found that lot of the jokes landed, and they weren’t always just ‘so dumb it’s funny’ punchlines. I found a lot of the scenarios and characters in Little Evil to be pretty funny, and that made for a movie that was pretty enjoyable to watch. But even though the movie was funny, I didn’t find it to be a very good parody. Instead of attacking these points head-on, Little Evil decided to use movies like The Omen to set the scene and then throw in jokes that have almost nothing to do with them. It’s for this reason that a lot of the plot points seem kind of inconsequential. I mean they’re there, but apart from that they didn’t really have a purpose in the movie. And I believe they were there in the first place just to manufacture congruency to movies that Little Evil was parodying. “Oh, there’s a scene where someone warns the family? Let’s throw one of those in there too”. Everything, at least substance-wise, about Little Evil felt kind of weak to be honest and it all culminates into a fucking awful final act. I’m not sure what happened, but Little Evil seemingly forgets what it was about and then just throws shit together for the finale. We get introduced to a new bad guy, some new plot points, and just for good measure they throw in a monster truck. It was a pretty big mess. And it wasn’t even just the plot that bothered me, but some lazy writing in general. For instance, every single character is frustratingly ignorant to the point where I was getting mad at how easily things could have been solved if they just used their heads. I get that you could argue this is a “commentary on horror films” but it was just frustrating.
As far as the rest of the movie goes, there isn’t a whole lot to say. I felt that the performances were passable, nothing great but nothing terrible. I did find that the kid was a little flat most of the times, but I can’t really hold that against them because not only are child actors not always the best but the character he was playing was kind of shit. I also felt the movie dragged its feet quite a bit, but this relates back to the whole ‘pointless plot’ argument that I brought up earlier. One thing that I did notice about Little Evil was the fact that the movie tried to rip off Edgar Wright’s style of editing, especially early on. Now I’m not going to give the movie shit for trying to take something from someone else because I believe all art is “inspiration” (theft), but I didn’t like how they used it. Edgar Wright uses his quick cuts to set up a scene. It gets the audience ready for what’s about to happen by walking them through the steps of how the characters got there. It can also double as a punchline, but that’s beside the point. What Little Evil did was a pretty big mistake, and that was the fact that they used this style of editing for scene transitions. That shit don’t fly. You can’t have a guy sitting at his desk at work, start a montage of him typing and photocopying, and then cut in clips of him watering his garden, and then cut to a scene of him at home. What you’re going to do there is confuse the audience, because we thought this character was at work. I’m not saying that you have to hold my hand throughout this character’s journey, but the less I go “Huh??” while watching your movie, the better.
Overall Little Evil was far from a masterpiece, but it was still pretty enjoyable. Though the actual ‘parody’ portions of the movie fell flat, the jokes were still there to bring the laughs. The writing can be kind of weak, and if you want the best experience I would recommend that you stop the movie before watching the last 30 minutes.
I give Little Evil a B