Sunday, 18 December 2011

Review : Little Deaths (2011)

Sometimes I feel like I'm from a different planet, friendo's. If anyone knows directions to Earth, draw me a fucking map, will ya?!

I had read nothing but good things about LITTLE DEATHS, and had even been recommended it by a very close, very drunk and very enthusiastic friend. Most of the more established Horror websites have proclaimed it a worthy addition to the much beloved 'Horror-Anthology' sub-genre. Some have claimed it has depth, style, great acting, satisfying stories and its fair share of gore-filled set pieces.

Well, I'm not buying any of that shit...

I love a good Horror Anthology. At least I have that in common with my peers. I mean, who doesn't love those short sharp blasts of Horror? The broadly drawn characters, the inevitable (twisted) twist in the tale, the cornucopia of well-known faces and the literal guarantee of at least two or three payoffs. They resemble nothing so much as E.C's 50's Horror comics writ large, and when done properly, they can be a hell of a lot of fun.

Some of my all time favourite films are anthologies. Romero and Kings CREEPSHOW, (which basically was an E.C Comics adaptation, in style and content), Roger Corman's TALES OF TERROR, Ealing Studios' DEAD OF NIGHT and last but not least, the magical TRICK 'R' TREAT are all stone cold classics in my world. I've seen them all countless times and love them inside-out, and the reasons for this are tenfold. These films, (and others that successfully work within the template), have a number of very vital things in common that make them work. Most importantly, they all have a sense of fun, and a certain playfulness to their presentation; be it CREEPSHOW'S EC inspired animated wraparound story, DEAD OF NIGHTS alternately terrifying and fascinating 'deja-vu' grounding, or TRICK 'R' TREATS inverted, twisting, turning and converging plot-lines. These film all shine. They each have a unique sensibility. LITTLE DEATHS has none of that.

The three stories presented here are linked by the themes of sex and death, but its a very tenuous link. There is no wraparound, no commonality, (other than some half perceived notions of intellect), and apparently very little inspiration. What you essentially have is three short-length 'art-house' movies that are neither artful, nor feel short. It feels like three very poor episodes of FEAR ITSELF have been placed back to back with practically no through-line, and labelled an anthology. Some will argue that the three films are a study of the deep, dark relationship between sex, and death, (the title, after all is taken from the French term for orgasm, 'Le Petite Morte'), but that just isn't the case. All three feature varying degree's of sexual perversion (or not, depending on how you roll), and all climax in acts of violence, but other than that, there really isn't much food for thought here, at all.

Only the first, and by far the best tale HOUSE AND HOME, has some depth to it. In dealing with a perverted couple who abduct and rape the homeless of (I assume) London, it does manage to say some pretty interesting things about the class system in Britain. It has the best performances too, especially from the downtrodden, sick as fuck husband character. The pay-off is decent, its well paced, and it supplies some much welcome gore in its final moments. In another anthology it would be a middling entry, but in LITTLE DEATHS its as good as things are gonna get. It's all downhill from here, troops.

The second ditty, MUTANT TOOL, is a total mess. It's an altogether incomprehensible collision of Nazi experimentation, a drug made from cum, and a study of addiction and its effects on the individual. It aims high and lands flat on its ass. Theres no characters to get behind, (in HOUSE AND HOME we had the abducted gal), no sense of threat, no cohesive plot and frankly, no point to the whole venture. Its the low mark of the collection, but that's not to say things get much better.

BITCH, the third, and thankfully, final story, is a tale of a guy who likes to dress like a dog and piss on his better half's underwear, and then be punished via a strap-on dildo up his rear-end. That's fine, man. Whatever floats your boat, its all good. But these people aren't the sort of protagonists I can get behind, (although I wouldn't wanna get in front of 'strap-on girl, either, kids). The girls a fucking lunatic, and the guys a damned wimp, so by the time the bloodless, pointless and altogether dull finale arrives, I couldn't give two shits who's killing who, or for what reason. This tale felt like it lasted hours. They may have failed at making a shocking portrait of sexual dominance, but they fucked up the space-time continuum with fucking flying colours.

LITTLE DEATHS sees itself as an elegant treatise on the symbiotic relationship between sex and death. It wants to be shocking, edgy and perceptive. It ain't...

LITTLE DEATHS wants to be Clive Barker, but its R.L Stine with some tit-shots and a rubber dick. Other than the passable opening tale, its about as monotone, dull and pretentious as any Horror movie I've ever seen. Its not even bad enough to be fun, its just downright dull. The acting is almost all 'stagey', theres barely one character worth giving a shit about, the violence is set to 'none', the cinematography shoots for 'gritty' and hits on 'depressing', and the whole thing feels like a tacked together, art-school project. Overindulgent, wannabe profound, self-important nonsense that deserves to be ignored.

As I said, the first tale is alright, (although any episode of TALES FROM THE CRYPT kicks the shit out of it, by a long long way), but its not good enough to make this worth your while.

Now, supposedly I'm wrong on this, as the 'film' has its admirers, but if this is what passes as Horror and/or Art nowadays, I'd rather be wrong, than hanging with the 'right' guys. If your looking for some intelligent, challenging Horror-shorts, there are many out there, which receive zero publicity or distribution. Seek them out. And if your looking for a fun little Horror buffet, you already know where to look. It's a free world, ladies and gentlemen, but time is short; and in a world where we have TRICK 'R' TREAT and CREEPSHOW, why in the hell would this film be worth 90 minutes of your wonderful existence? You decide.

3 Cum-Tablets out of 10 ( 2 for the opening tale, 1 for the third, and none for the second).

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