Little Erin Merryweather (2003)

Author: Brett Gallman
Submitted by: Brett Gallman   Date : 2011-04-13 00:00

Written and Directed by: David Morwick
Starring: Vigdis Anholt, David Morwick, and Elizabeth Callahan

Reviewed by: Brett G.

ďOh, I'm just an ordinary small town girl...Ē

Fairy tales are often pretty violent--itís an aspect that gets glossed over, but so many of those stories involve monsters preying on young kids. They sort of naturally lend themselves to horror movies, and indeed a handful of films have used them to great effect (Wes Cravenís New Nightmare makes especially good use of "Hansel and Gretel"). Little Erin Merryweather takes the familiar tale of ďLittle Red Riding Hoodď and infuses it with a slasher aesthetic to mixed results.

After a college student is brutally murdered right off campus, Peter Bloom and his investigative friends decide to look into the case. As the body count increases, they also seek help from a psychology professor to figure out who the killer is. Unbeknownst to all of them, the killer is operating right under their nose; a victim of childhood trauma, this killer begins targeting Peter and his friends.

Little Erin Merryweather is a film that really canít decide what it wants to be. We find out fairly early who the killer is, so this is one of those movies where weíre waiting for the characters to catch on and wise up. For the most part, itís a straightforward hack-em-up that has a few slash and stalk sequences. Thereís far more stalking than slashing though, as this isnít a particularly grisly film. In fact, itís obviously taking a cue from Carpenterís Halloween in that it wants to be moody and violent without being overtly bloody. I say this because there are numerous nods to Carpenterís film, from the names of one of the characters to the filmís climax, which borrows many of the beats from Halloween. Plus, so parts of the film are soaked in deep, ethereal blue lighting that reminded me of Cundeyís cinematography. If anything, they picked a good film to emulate.

That emulation translates into a moderately interesting experience, mostly due to the fairy tale aspects. The brief, fleeting images of the killerís vivid red attire in the snowbound woods are pretty striking, and the film actually manages to be quite atmospheric and moody for the first fifteen minutes or so; this is when you still think itís going to be a mystery. Instead, the cat gets let out of the bag far too soon, and the most interesting elements are dropped, like the flashbacks to the killerís childhood and the childís voiceover, once-upon-a-time narration. Had the film found some way to merge the present day murder mystery with the flashbacks and fairy tale elements, it could have been quite strong.

As it is, itís just a sort of decently made independent production that admittedly shows a lot of polish. The characters are fairly bland, though our killer kind of stands out. Sure, itís the usual childhood trauma stuff, but the film tries to do some interesting things with the killerís M.O., which involves hollowing out the victimsí bodies and filling them with stones. When theyíre not spouting 101-level psycho-babble, everyone else is basically there to fill up the body count, which isnít that hight. You start to wonder who exactly this film was made for because it wonít satisfy most slasher fans, and itís certainly not much of a murder mystery either.

Itís just another in a long line of well-intentioned films that have some interesting ideas that donít quite make it all the way to the screen. Weíve seen plenty of films like this, and this one does give a legitimate effort with the fairy tale stuff. Indican Pictures released the film on DVD about 4 years ago--itís got an anamorphic widescreen transfer, 5.1 audio, and some special features in the form of a couple of trailers, a still gallery, and previews of other Indican offerings. Itís available from Netflix too, which is your best bet; this one isnít much of a big, bad wolf, but you wonít mind strolling through the woods with it once. Rent it!

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