Fantasia ’11 [Review] A Second Opinion of ‘Little Deaths’ Anthology

Having premiered out of SXSW last March, David Harley initially reviewed Little Deaths, a new horror anthology featuring horrific tales from three of England’s edgiest filmmakers: Simon Rumley (Red White & Blue, Living and the Dead), Andrew Parkinson (I, Zombie, Venus Drowning) and Sean Hogan (Isle of Dogs, Summer’s Blood).

New Bloody Disgusting contributor, Scott Shoyer, has chimed in with his thoughts on the three short films: “Bitch,” “House & Home,” and “Mutant Tool.” Sounds pretty effin’ werird.

Little Deaths

Here’s a quirky little film I read about late last year and has kinda come on the scene under the radar. Little Deaths is an anthology film, but not like you’re thinking. We get three short films from three writer-directors, but they aren’t connected by a common “wrap-around” story. They’re connected only in theme alone. What’s the theme? I’m glad you asked. These three stories, we’re promised, are “unified by the twin themes of sex and death.” Of the three short films, one hits it outta the ball park, one hits an in-field double, and one strikes out.

The first story, “House and Home,” is written and directed by Sean Hogan (who wrote the screenplay Summer’s Moon; see my review here). The story focuses on a rich and religious couple Richard and Victoria (Luke de Lacey and Siubhan Harrison respectively) who appear as do-gooders but actually have very different plans in store for their charity cases. Their latest victim Sorrow (Holly Lucas) isn’t as innocent as she at first seems.

“House and Home” is the in-field double of the batch. The acting is pretty good all around and it moves along at a brisk pace. The twist near the end won’t be all that surprising to horror fans, but it works … kind of. But the biggest problem I had with this one was the writing. It’s not bad, but Hogan really missed a great opportunity to elevate this short above the usual like-minded themed films. There was a definite metaphor that was completely ignored here (mainly the sharp divide between the rich, kinky, religious do-gooders who were in the upper echelons of society and the filthy, “no good” homeless “dregs of society” who the rich couple looked down on). There’s a metaphor here for the way the various classes treat each other that was completely ignored. But what the plot lacked in the story it made up for with decent gore.

The second entry, “Mutant Tool,” has the best title by far. Written and directed by Andrew Parkinson (who wrote-directed I, Zombie and Dead Creatures), “Mutant Tool” takes the kitchen sink approach to storytelling. We get a mysterious subject who is bound up in a basement being force fed a diet of liquid human kidney’s which somehow gives him super sperm which a crazy doctor, Dr. Reece (Brendan Gregory), is harvesting to make some kind of pill to sell on the black market that not even he knows what it does. Oh yeah; did I mention that this procedure was based on Nazi experiments? Yeah, this one is all over the place and has a really confusing and ridiculous twist that just doesn’t work.

“Mutant Tool” is a muddled and confusing mess and the story really doesn’t fit the overall theme of Little Deaths. Sure there’s a sex scene, but it feels very tagged on, almost like Parkinson added it in at the last minute to try and get some sex into the story and make it eligible for Little Deaths. “Mutant Tool” is definitely the weakest story of the three.

So I wasn’t feeling too positive going into the last story, “Bitch.” I’m glad I stuck in there. Written and directed by Simon Rumley, who wrote and directed the pretty impressive The Living and the Dead. “Bitch” begins with a peek into the (a-hem) domestic bliss of couple Pete (Tom Sawyer) and Claire.(Kate Braithwaite). Their relationship is, you could say, strained and is one based on power and domination. You’d think the title was referring to Claire, but then in a shocking scene we see that Pete is … oh hell. ya gotta see it for yourself to believe it.

As the story unfolds Pete finally grows to have enough of Claire’s bullshit and he devises a plan to take back the power in the relationship … and boy does he!! “BItch,” you’ll realize soon after it begins, is the most mature of the three stories in both writing and directing. Rumley really tells a compelling story that has you guessing and trying to figure out what Pete is up too. Once we see his plan to regain the dominant role in the relationship, you’ll be speechless and dumbfounded. It’s a fantastic ending that will shock the shit outta you!! “Bitch” makes watching Little Deaths completely worthwhile.

Little Deaths is overall enjoyable. The first story will entertain you even if it is a little predictable. Just skip the second story all together (trust me), and then be prepared to be blown away by the third entry. Little Deaths is a fun anthology film marked by a weak second act but more than makes up for it in the final story. Check it out.

3/5 Skulls

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