Back in October of 2015 I plowed through a heap o’ horror movies and scribbled my thoughts concerning them on this here internet. I had intended to repeat that feat in 2016, but, you know, something something something life. If I recall correctly, October ’16 was The Month of the Free HBO Now Preview and I was caching up on Game of Thrones, leaving no free time for movies.
Well, the GoT catch-up is caught, ain’t nothing free about HBO Now now, and I’m back on the horror horse. Like some kind of horseman . . . maybe . . . I don’t know . . . a headless one? Yeah. A headless horseman. Has anyone ever made a movie about that?
Anyway, we kick off Bride of The Horror. The Horror. with Little Evil, a Netflix exclusive from this very year of 2017.
The setup is simple. Adam Scott marries Evangeline Lilly, then flails at bonding with her creepy son, whom Adam begins to suspect might just be the Antichrist. So: The Omen, played for laughs, with a few visual gags from other horror classics thrown in. (Poltergeist, Children of the Corn . . . you’ll know ‘em when you see ‘em.)
Little Evil is one of those almost-but-not-quite movies. Almost creepy, but too obvious in its callbacks to surprise you. Almost hilarious, but more in a smiles-and-occasional-chuckles than an actual belly-laughing way. Inside the wrapper of all the horror tropes Little Evil employs is a nugget of the very real, awkward, sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny effort that goes into bonding with one’s stepfamily. But it plays those tropes too safely to get to a moment of real empathy for the characters. It’s entertaining but not quotable, a little touching without actually meaning anything.
Essentially, your enjoyment of Little Evil is going to depend on how much you like watching Adam Scott reprise his role from Parks and Recreation as the good-hearted guy who is perpetually befuddled and/or overwhelmed by the craziness of the world around him. I for one like him as that character, so I didn’t mind seeing it brought back for this movie. Nothing wrong with an actor leaning into his strengths—Jason Bateman seemingly puts out three or four variations on Michael Bluth every year, and no one’s complaining about that.
(Also, Clancy Brown makes an appearance as a preacher who might [surprise!] not be as virtuous as he seems. Always good to see the Kurgan in action.)
Here’s the beautiful thing about Little Evil, though: it’s a perfect gateway drug to real horror movies. Say you’ve got a significant other who doesn’t care for the genre. Show them Little Evil. It’s never actually scary, its humor is fairly safe, and it’s kind of sweet in the end, a nice family comedy built around satanic rituals. If your SO enjoys Little Evil, maybe then you explain how it’s a comedic take on the The Omen and hey, why don’t we watch that for comparison’s sake? And from there you might as well watch the other “Satan is really into kids” classics from the Seventies . . . and before you know it, y’all are watching Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist and, voilà, you’ve transformed your boo into a horror fanatic!
Everyone wins: you. Your SO. Satan. Good times for all!