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After Dark Horrorfest: Wicked Little Things

Directed by J.S. Cardone

Written by Boaz Davidson, Ben Nedivi

Starring Lori Heuring, Scout Taylor-Compton, Chloe Moretz, Geoffrey Lewis

Produced by Boaz Davidson, Anton Roger

Rated R

94 minutes

****

Easily the second-best, tie for first, scariest movie in the entire After Dark Horrorfest, “Wicked Little Things,” packs an explosive and downright scary punch.

With a DVD menu capable of even blowing away the great “Gravedancers,” “Wicked Little Things” brings us a tale of a widow who moves to the wilds of deepest Pennsylvania with her children. They’re out to start a new life in a house left to her by her late husband’s family. And waiting for her is a tale of zombies, ghosties, and child labor gone horribly awry.

“Wicked Little Things” is quite fun, in its way. The house used for a setting is a nightmarish, rambling monstrousity and the oppressively wooded set makes for plenty of scares. And even some rare laughs, too—I like how our widow brushes off her daughter’s comments about going to school with inbred mountain hicks. Though it could have been even more fun:

“Why, of COURSE you’re going to school with inbred mountain hicks, honey! You’ll be valedictorian because you could add before you were twelve! AND, you’ll be the prettiest girl in school because you have all your own teeth and have mastered a bra. You’ll have your pick of boys to squire you to the Jeeeeu-nor PROM! This year’s theme is ‘I Gots My Own Shoes’!”

Now, I could continue having fun by introducing fun with cigarette lighters or borrow from the legendary Ed O’Neill for “nothin’ spells lovin’ like marryin’ yer cousin!”—

Addytown, Pennsylvania! Where, as Einstein would put it, everyone’s relative!

..but okay, enough fun. Back to the movie.

After about a third of the way through, the movie’s tension levels will, almost with an audible snap, switch gears and go from mildly scary mock-the-redneck fest to wet-yourself holy-shit-scary fest. For those of you who have, for some reason, wondered what a pig sounds like when it screams in some combination of rage, pain and terror, now you will know.

And pigs shrieking in all the worst emotions is only the tip of this particular monstrous iceberg. Some of you purists out there may be thinking that this has been done to death. Granted, it’s all a little familiar, what with the vengeful zombie / ghost children attacking the living, but it’s the way in which it’s done that gives “Wicked Little Things” its extreme punch. There’s a certain something to it—maybe it’s the fact that they’re all children, or the other more plot-related oddities, but there’s something in “Wicked Little Things” that gives it plenty of extra kick.

The ending has plenty of action to go around, and more than its share of scares. Most of the scary footage in the movie occurs in the last two thirds, and the last fifteen minutes of that will make an excellent climax. Plus, there’ll be a nifty little twist at the end.

The special features include audio commentary and trailers for the After Dark Horrorfest, “Dark Ride,” “The Hamiltons,” “Reincarnation,” “Gravedancers,” “Unrest,” and “Penny Dreadful”

All in all, “Wicked Little Things” is just one more reason to make me question why the films to die for aren’t the same kind of film we get in regular distribution.

Steve Anderson is a film critic who collects action figures so he can dress them up as his favorite horror villains. He lives somewhere in the United States.


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