Wicked Little Things (2006)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2008-04-17 13:12

Written by: Boaz Davidson (story), Ben Nedivi (screenplay)
Directed by: J.S. Cardone

Reviewed by: Brett G.

In 2006, After Dark Films announced Horrorfest, an 8 film horror movie festival that would take place in select American cities in November of that year. Dubbed “Eight Films to Die For,” the festival essentially gave eight independent horror films a chance to shine in theaters. Essentially, these were selected by After Dark as the best of the best when it comes to independent horror. Naturally, I was skeptical of the flicks, as they’re essentially direct-to-video material that just happened to play in theaters for a couple of days. However, I couldn’t resist picking up the flicks when they went on sale for $5 apiece late last year, and I’m just now getting around to them.

The first film of the bunch that I decided to watch was Wicked Little Things, a film that seems to blend several sub-genres: it’s essentially a ghost story/town legend film crossed with zombies and the undead; furthermore, the film plays out like a slasher flick on many levels. The film opens with a scene from 1913, where young children are being used by a local entrepreneur to work in a mine. Tragically, a dynamite accident causes the mine to collapse and kill all the children inside.

The film then flashes forward to the same Pennsylvania town during the present day where recently widowed Karen Tunny is moving into her late husband’s family home with her two daughters, Sarah and Emma. Of course, it soon becomes clear that something’s not quite right with the small community, as the woman and her daughter are greeted by blood on their front door. Before long, the youngest daughter (Emma) claims to have befriended an invisible girl named Mary, who leads her to the abandoned mine one day. Then, Karen encounters Hanks, a strange local man who seems to know more than he tells. Finally, a few local kids tell Sarah about the legend of the zombie miner children that supposedly roam the countryside at night seeking vengeance for the cruel fate that befell them decades ago.

Wicked Little Things is about as straightforward as it gets for a horror film. You’re introduced to a handful of characters, some interesting, if not clichéd villains, and there are some somewhat violent deaths as the film rolls towards its somewhat predictable conclusion. That being said, the film does all this pretty well. The acting is competent, the film is well shot and atmospheric, and the zombie children are creepy enough. It seems like dead or creepy children always make for interesting horror villains, and the ones here follow suit, as their hunger for blood is unrelenting. Also, you might remember from my review of Rob Zombie’s Halloween that I considered Scout Taylor-Compton one of the few bright spots of the flick, and she stars here as Sarah, the oldest Tunny daughter. She essentially plays the same role of the normal teenage girl here, which she pulls of well (as is to be expected, I suppose). All told, you find yourself caring about all three of the Tunnys by the time the film ends, which is always a good thing in a horror film.

The film isn’t especially gory; instead, it relies on atmosphere and suspense to deliver its thrills. The backwoods mountain setting is always effective, and the photography here effectively gives a sense of isolation. It seems that a lot of recent horror films have gone out of their way to create an old-school feeling and have failed. Wicked Little Things succeeds in this respect, as it feels like an older film in the sense that it’s a simply directed and straightforward horror film. There are no gimmicky twists or stylistic decisions, nor does the film seem to have its tongue planted firmly in its cheek; instead, it’s just a fun little ghost story that will leave you satisfied at the end. It’s not an excellent horror film, but it gets the job done if you’re looking to pass an hour and a half. If you like horror films with small towns and ghost stories, this is one you’ll want to check out.

Lion’s Gate is the distributor for the After Dark Horrorfest films, and the DVD presentation of Wicked Little Things is everything you’ve come to expect from the medium as far as presentation quality goes. The transfer is crisp, clean, and sharp, and the soundtrack has an effective use of all channels to create the tense atmosphere. As far as I know, all eight of the films in the After Dark series are available to rent at your local Blockbuster. Wicked Little Things is a fun little film, and I think any horror fan would enjoy an evening with it, especially if you’re creeped out by dead miner children. Rent it!

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