WICKED LITTLE THINGS
Directed by J.S. Cardone
Produced by Boaz Davidson, Anton Hoger
Written by Ben Nedivi
Director of Photograpy Emil Topuzov
Music by Tim Jones
Cast: Lori Heuring, Scout-Taylor Compton, Chloe Moretz, Ben Cross, Geoffrey Lewis
2006/94 mins/Color/Dolby Digital 5.1
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from Lionsgate Home Entertainment DVD
It's very clear that moviegoers like original movies (to an extent). From the fight scenes in THE MATRIX to the narrative structure of PULP FICTION to the visuals of SIN CITY, if a film can offer something which feels new, then it will get attention. But, there are only some many new story ideas and technological breakthroughs out there, so not every film can be original. In fact, some don't feel very original at all. But, that doesn't mean that they can't be enjoyable, and WICKED LITTLE THINGS is a good example of this.
WICKED LITTLE THINGS opens in 1913, as we witness a coal-mining accident involving the many children who have been forced to work in the Pennsylvania mine. The story then leaps ahead to the present. Karen Tunny (Lori Heuring) has recently lost her husband and she's inherited his ancestral home in the mountains of Pennsylvania. She has decided to start her life over by moving there with her two children, Sarah (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Emma (Chloe Moretz). When they reach the area, a local merchant tells them to stay out of the woods at night. Upon arriving at the house, they find that it's in disrepair and Sarah immediately begins to question her mother's decision.
Almost immediately, bizarre things begin to happen. Emma claims that she's met a girl named Mary, and Karen finds her youngest child wandering near the old mine. Karen meets a local named Hanks (Ben Cross) who puts blood on his door (and Karen's as well) and warns Karen that the area isn't safe. While searching the basement of the old house, Karen finds documents which describe the children who worked in the mines and she soon learns that the restless souls of those children still roam the woods seeking vengeance.
While watching WICKED LITTLE THINGS I was nearly driven to distraction as I found myself listing off the other movies of which I was reminded. THE CHILDREN, THE FOG, THE SHINING, THE HAUNTING (1999), VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR -- all of these titles kept going through my mind as the film progressed. The idea of the antagonists being children is certainly an interesting one, but the film seems to borrow heavily from so many other movies. Beyond that, the entire concept of the film isn't very fresh. We've seen the film where the widow has to move to start her life over. The idea of vengeful spirits isn't anything new and when the industrialist villain is introduced, the movie nearly reaches the pinnacle of hackneyed. (Although, I must admit, I had some other issues with the story. The children are referred to as zombies, but they also seem to be ghosts. It's quite strange.)
But, even though WICKED LITTLE THINGS doesn't have an original thought in its head, it's still a fairly good little horror movie. Director J.S. Cardone may have written some crappy movies in the past such as THE FORSAKEN and THE COVENANT, but he's done a good job creating atmosphere here. The movie, which was shot in Bulgaria, has a nice look and the woods surrounding the Tunny house are both desolate and creepy. The zombie children are quite creepy, as they are dressed in their period garb and their eyes are totally black. The kids are quite relentless in the pursuit of their prey and the moments where they are on-screen can be quite intense. These scenes could have easily been comical -- a la THE CHILDREN -- but they do work. (Although, I had to question how organized the children were. Maybe they're in a Union.) The movie's build up is somewhat slow, but the last thirty minutes contains several horrific sequences and a nice amount of gore.
OK, so WICKED LITTLE THINGS is the first film that I've ever seen which features zombie coal miner kids, but other than that, the movie plays like a greatest hits from other genre movies. But, the movie has a nice look and some satisfying scenes. The pacing, while some may find it slow, builds over the course of the film and things are never boring. In short, this movie could easily be labeled a rip-off, but it was better than a lot of other crap that I've watched lately. So, if you can put you encyclopedic knowledge of horror films aside, you won't get shafted by WICKED LITTLE THINGS.
WICKED LITTLE THINGS makes it big on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. (IMDB.com lists the original aspect ratio at 1.85:1.) The transfer has a few minor problems. Some shots are quite dark and it's somewhat difficult to see the action. Also, some of the exterior shots are grainy. Otherwise, the transfer is acceptable. The image is sharp and the colors look fine. The contrast between the gloomy daytime scenes and the totally dark nighttime shots works well here. I noticed some video noise at times, but this was intermittent. The DVD's Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are OK, and the track makes nice use of the rear speakers for the scenes set in the forest.
The only extra on the WICKED LITTLE THINGS DVD is an AUDIO COMMENTARY with director J.S. Cardone and star Loir Heuring. This duo spends a lot of time discussing the working conditions in Bulgaria. They also comment on the other cast members. But, for me, the most interesting note came at the very beginning where Cardone states that WICKED LITTLE THINGS was at one time TOBE HOOPER'S ZOMBIES. I had no idea. I remember ZOMBIES being announced, but I never made the connection. However, Cardone doesn't comment on what, if anything, was changed once he came on-board.
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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2007. ©
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