EVIL LITTLE THINGS movie poster | ©2020 Uncork’d Entertainment

EVIL LITTLE THINGS movie poster | ©2020 Uncork’d Entertainment

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: Mason Wells, Geoff McKnight, L.A. Winters, Zach Galligan, Hannah Fierman, Courtney Hogan, Courtney Lakin, Jonathan Horne
Writers:
Yasmin Bakhtiari and Nancy Knight
Director: Matt Green
Distributor: Uncork’d Entertainment
Release Date (DVD and Digital): May 12, 2020

EVIL LITTLE THINGS is billed as a horror anthology. This isn’t quite accurate – it’s actually two stories, bound together by a wraparound third. The theme here is creepy dolls, which for some of us never gets old, providing it’s done right. Despite the fact that Matt Green directed the entire enterprise, the quality varies from piece to piece.

The wraparound is fairly solid, though we can guess where it’s all going from the start. Young Jason (Mason Wells) is afraid of monsters under his bed. His loving mom (L.A. Winters) is understanding. His stepfather (Zach Galligan, of GREMLINS) is impatient and potentially violent.

Mom takes Jason to shop for a toy that will make him feel safe at night. They wind up in a toy shop with a peculiar proprietor (Geoff McKnight), who for reasons we never know thinks telling potential customers hair-raising stories about his dolls is good for business.

The first tale, like the second, is based on a short story by Yasmin Bakhtiari, who cowrote the script with Nancy Knight. It concerns a house with a scary history and leprechauns. The production design by Ozzie Carnan Jr. is excellent; when a character observes, “This house looks like something from a horror film,” it’s on the nose, but we agree. We can also imagine how this may have worked on the page. However, on the screen, it’s talky, slow, and doesn’t fully add up. The leprechaun doll itself is definitely not something anybody would want on their doorstep, but it doesn’t warrant the length of the sequence.

The second piece is much more effective. Abby (Courtney Lakin) is a beautiful young woman who has a scar that runs the length of her face but in no way detracts from her looks. Abby thinks she is ugly, partly because of the scar, but mainly because her extremely unsettling antique doll Susie (voiced by screenwriter Bakhtiari) keeps telling her so. Susie is jealous of Abby’s other dolls and keeps disfiguring them. Susie insists that she and Abby are bound together by their ugliness and loneliness. When Abby goes to a sci-fi convention and meets up with an old boyfriend (Jonathan Horne), Susie is less than pleased.

This episode achieves the kind of TWILIGHT ZONE kind of horror that the whole film seems to be going for, with a payoff that works.

As for the wraparound, we know from the outset that, yes, there is a monster in the house, and no, it’s not under the bed, so no prizes for guessing how that one works out.

So EVIL LITTLE THINGS is uneven, but has its moments. If one has the option, it might be best to watch the wraparound, skip the leprechaun, and watch Susie do her thing.

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