Directed by Matt Green, Evil Little Things shows just how truly diverse dolls can be as a movie monster. It is woefully low-budget but the direction is savvy and the narrative and atmosphere is obviously nostalgic — this movie’s vibe reminds me of those ‘family against an evil entity’ kind of horror films from the 80s and 90s, something like Dolls (1987) or Trolls (1986). A film that is all in one Annabelle (2014), Chucky, and that creepy clown scene from Poltergeist (1982), Evil Little Things was fun, and even surprisingly heartfelt. Journey through a series of horror stories, each following different people and the dolls who love them — love to kill them, that is.
First, a young boy who is afraid of the dark is taken to the toystore by his doting mother. Full of old, mostly broken dolls, the Toymaster introduces them to some of his favorites, including a clown doll named Giggles. Will Giggles quiet the voices coming from under the boy’s bed, or join them? Sentimentally, the Toymaster also reminisces over a doll named Patty, whose cracked visage was beloved by a young woman whose delicate face bares scars as well. Not to forget one of the Toymaster’s most special dolls, Patrick O’Mally, who has a torrid past of being the plaything for an unassuming suburban family, one who soon realized that playtime was over.
Evil Little Things follows the horrors caused by one of cinema’s smallest but most sinister monsters, dolls. Irish folklore and leprechaun horror meet creepy clowns and evil china dolls in a series of shorts. Evil Little Things is structured in a unique way where it is not inherently obvious it is meant to be an anthology, the narrative abruptly goes on tangents from the original storyline. These all feel like short films that were not brave enough to be full-length films on their own, and I mean that in the best way. Especially in the case of the 2nd storyline which follows a young woman who deals with body positivity issues that manifests themselves in an unhealthy relationship with a china doll. This narrative, in particular, is soo well done — leprechauns, cosplay, internal personal struggle, true love, it has it all. After the first leg of the film which was at times nonsensical and silly, at least this segment of the film felt like it captured the essence of what used to be considered horror.
Besides the first storyline, the film does a great job of coyly building the tension rather than spelling it out with cliché shots. For example, I would think it is pretty obvious that one is in a horror movie when your doll is suddenly holding a knife, but apparently not in Matt Green’s universe. This first short is one of those horror movies that will have you screaming at the screen but at the characters’ stupidity and unrealistic reactions rather than at any sort of fear being produced from a scene. If you can get past that, then you can undoubtedly enjoy Evil Little Things. Also, the great Zach Galligan of Gremlins (1984) fame was there to ensure that the film went out with a bang with an epic, scene-stealing doll fight.
The movie is not in chronological order, but rather, intertwines multiple storylines of families who go tow to toe with varying types of dolls. Because the transitions into these different storylines are not smoother nor even announced by some sort of segue, I found the film to be a bit confusing to follow at times. Despite the minor lazy aspects of the writing, Evil Little Things is the best supernatural doll story I have seen in a while — if each story were allowed to be properly fleshed out they would be doll movies that could say a lot existentially, if not at the very least bring back the campy cheese of family horror films. I was truly pleasantly surprised by this film, and if courage abounds in Matt Green to make a feature-length film I would be very interested to see what else he can do. Released by Uncork’d Entertainment, Evil Little Things will be available on VOD beginning May 12th.
MOVIE RATING – 6.5 out of 10 ☠️
|Evil Little Things|
|Runtime:||1 hr. 25 Mins.|