Evil Little Things is a toy theme horror anthology film that leaves the scares and tension on the shelf.
After endless nights of claiming there’s a monster under his bed, Jason’s mother (L.A. Winters) decides to take him to a toy store in search of a special friend to offer him a sense of security. A dog might have made for a better choice, but it’s not my kid.
Naturally, Jason (Mason Wells) quickly sidesteps past all the cool action figures and makes a beeline for the creepiest looking leprechaun doll in the store. Do video games also not exist in this world?
Of course there’s a story associated with every doll in the shop and the clearly creepy store owner (Geoff McKnight) is all too happy to share them.
For an anthology, writers Yasmin Bakhtiari and Nancy Knight seem to miss the concept telling a pair of similar tales.
The first segment focuses on Jessica (Hannah Fierman), a woman who moves her family to an ancestral home. She’s quickly haunted by a leprechaun doll that seems to have a mind of its own like reaching for a knife in the kitchen and knocking her over while she’s cleaning the chimney.
Jessica ignores the common sense approach of throwing the doll in the dumpster, the side of the road or putting it in a locked case. Instead, she seems puzzled every time the doll moves. Young Jessica also might have already had an encounter with a leprechaun. Does it matter to the actual story? No, but it’s apparently a neat factoid worth mentioning.
It’s hard to build suspense around a doll that the budget is too small to cover the animation. That’s a very generous use of the term BTW, as the dolls are moved by hand — not in the impressive puppetry way, but in the clutching and shaking the doll to simulate movement manner. It’s not so much awful as it is sad.
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This puts a huge onus on the actor to perform with an inanimate object. In the CGI era that’s not unprecedented, but it requires a certain quality of performance that’s absent here.
Fierman is wooden, but her work isn’t helped by the choppy editing and abrupt transitions from director Matt Green. This carries over to the score as well as the music gets suddenly clipped as Jessica enters a new room. It’s jarring and keeps ruining the theoretical tension Green is setting up.
Next up is a young woman, Abby (Courtney Lakin) who has an extensive doll collection. The only problem is she owns a very jealous one named Patty that survived a traumatic fire with her. Patty isn’t above mangling any of Abby’s new dolls.
At a cosplay convention, Abby runs into her old flame, Jeremy (Jonathan Horne) and they rekindle their spark much to Patty’s chagrin resulting in a odd conclusion that doesn’t make a ton of sense. In fairness, the premise and Patty’s borderline racist/childish voice was so frustrating there was no chance of getting invested in this one.
The bar is low, but Lakin and Horne actually come off as competent performers.
The final chapter pays off the weakly developed subplot with Jason and his stepfather, who does seem irrationally annoyed that Jason whines about monsters under the bed. Dude, you knew what you were in for when you married Jason’s mother.
Evil Little Things can’t manage to come up with genuine scares, the direction and editing is lousy and the performers can’t do enough to salvage this one.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Photo Credit: October Coast