Friday, August 24, 2007

Wicked Little Things

Yes, five reviews in and I’ve finally gotten to a horror movie. Anyway, for those unfamiliar with the After Dark horror collection, they were basically a group of eight horror movies that played for three marathon nights in a few select cities around the country last November (one of which was fairly close to me, though I didn’t go because I couldn’t find anyone free to join me). Shortly thereafter, of course, they all came to DVD, which is when I first began watching them. Prior to catching this one on FearNet, a channel I hope to never have to endure again, I had seen Penny Dreadful, Dark Ride, and The Hamiltons, all of which were decent films, but which were nothing particularly special. I had feared for a time that all eight films were going to fall into this quality range, but Wicked Little Things has just proven me wrong, by virtue of an hour and a half of unending dullness and tedium.

Before I get accused of being too negative with this review, let me pause here to mention what I liked about the movie. The woods, where the majority of the film is set, does indeed look quite creepy at night. Alright, now to the rest of the review.

The basic premise, that of a family inheriting a house from a newly-deceased husband that happens to be deep in the mountainous woods where an ever-larger group of children were killed in a mine explosion and who are now back as flesh-eating zombies, is pretty cookie-cutter, but more has been made from even more tired plots. However, when it comes time to flesh out those bare bones, to make it distinctive and different so that it really starts to shine, this film just falls to pieces. All the characters are pretty thoroughly unlikable – the mom and her two daughters are established from their first appearance, driving to their new home, as being incredibly bitchy, whiny, and catty, and the film never really gives us a reason to change that view of them. The zombies are also pretty impossible to side with, as the film’s sepia-hued prologue (to let us know it’s in the past, you see, because the message reading “1913” wasn’t enough of a hint) shows the cave-in caused by dynamiting, and showing one of the girls in particular deciding that rather than move away from the dynamite before it goes off, she’d rather just sit there and hide like a damned idiot and court death. Impossible to side with them. There is a creepy all-knowing neighbor that we’re presumably supposed to like as he’s helping the family survive, but even he spends the whole movie openly blaming the last living descendant of the old mine owner for the accident that happened decades before he was born.

So those are the characters. Now was there at least an interesting plot, or even some good violence to get us through this thing? Well, if you view the violence of the original Night of the Living Dead to be incredibly gory, then you’ll be suitably impressed with the violence in this film, but it really isn’t better than any number of late 60s films. The plot, beyond even the contrived nature of it all, is simply terrible. It moves along just painfully slowly, with pretty much nothing at all happening for the first half-hour or so, then fleshing things out with as many bad cliches as one could name. The youngest daughter disappears from the house on multiple occasions; people dart out in front of cars, almost causing crashes, not once, but twice; a car gets stuck in the mud when the people inside are desperate to escape the zombies, despite the complete lack of rain at any point in the film; a car won’t start at all, requiring the survivors to venture out on foot, etc. At no point was I able to actually get involved in the film, as the constant cliches and idiocy of the plot, coupled with the overwhelming dullness of it all, just made me annoyed to be watching it at all. Do not see this film unless you need something to fall asleep to.

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